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inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!




Often called Sega's rival to the Fire Emblem series, Shining Force was a series of strategy RPGs on the Genesis, Game Gear, Sega CD, and finally the Saturn. While it was always had a fairly simple engine and had a difficulty level that was moderate at its hardest, it was still an enjoyable, lighthearted romp that holds a dear spot to many who grew up on Sega consoles. However, with the unpopularity of the Saturn outside of Japan, most of us missed the third installment in the series, and what a shame at that. Due to poor sales, the second and third scenarios of the game never saw official translation. Because the Saturn was such a weirdly constructed console, it was difficult to emulate until fairly recently. Put all of these things together, and it means very few people have experienced Shining Force 3.

Until now.

What's new in Shining Force 3?

Lots. Not going to lie, a lot of new mechanics have been cribbed from Fire Emblem. There's now supports, weapon levels, and a weapon triangle. Magic has seen a nearly complete overhaul, and non-magic characters have special criticals to diversify their abilities. Weapon upgrades are no longer purely linear, dying has actual consequences, there are bonus dungeons that are difficult, and plenty more. While previous Shining Force games were mostly cosmetic updates of the original, Camelot really went the extra mile to make Shining Force 3 an advancement in the series.

What did Shining Force 3 do right?

Nearly everything. All the stuff stolen from Fire Emblem is actually implemented far better in Shining Force 3. For a while, the writing is also surprisingly mature for a JRPG from the 90s. It's very little high fantasy, instead focusing on political turmoil and how it affects the world. The plot is actually more like Final Fantasy Tactics' long lost twin, both to its benefit and its downfall.

What did Shining Force 3 do wrong?

It's fairly obvious that the developers threw the idea of balance to the wind. The writing begins to fall apart halfway through the second scenario, which is frustrating to an audience that cares about what's actually going on. A significant number of the maps feel like they were designed by the Thracia 776 team. Oh, and the music sucks, but that's expected when you see Motoi Sakuraba's name on the credits.

Please note, I am not an expert at this game. I have only completed scenarios 1 and 2 once before, and have not yet started scenario 3. While I am a Shining Force veteran, I will not be able to dissect this game to the depth that I did with Shining Force 2. This LP is to showcase a mostly well designed game to most fans who missed it and newcomers who've never heard of it.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Scenario 1:

Part 1: Wordy intros? We 32 bit now
Character Analysis 1
Part 2: Dantares only gets better, folks
Part 3: This really couldn't be any more obvious
Part 4: This is why sexual harassment claims exist
Part 5: Leave your religion at the doorstep
Part 6: Named NPCs get biographies too
Part 7: This one's easy
Part 8: Foreshadowing that will almost never come to a head!
Part 9: More AI bullshit
Character Analysis 2
Part 10: The calm before the storm
Part 11: You have no idea how sick I got of replaying the first few turns
Part 12: The apology for Switching Point
Character Analysis 3
Part 13: This guy sounds familiar
Part 14: The art of doing nothing (Special thanks to RuanGacho!)
Part 15: This is what happens when I don't do my homework
Part 16: What was I doing again?
Part 17: If we could skip this fight, Scenario 2 wouldn't have to exist
Part 18: Don't go chasing
Part 19: Now it gets confusing
Part 20: Just call me Zeus
Part 21: And we never heard from Penn again
Part 22: So the next crit is Hyper Sentinel Force, right?
Character analysis 4
Part 23: Oh, I thought there was another dialogue happening this update
Part 24: Homecoming
Part 25: I refuse to pronounce it “meeth-ril”
Part 26: A hard bonus dungeon!
Part 27:
Part 28: Why do we have to do this again, Camelot?
Mini-Update: Looks like somebody was right all along!
Part 29: How many bosses was that?
Part 30: Ambush!!!
Part 31: PSYCHE
Part 32: Oops, Hagane's not useful
Part 33: Training Time!
Part 34: I lied, it's more words
Character analysis 5
Part 35: No dialogue this update!
Part 36: The Titan of Aspia
Part 37: Game over, man
Part 38: We're only a third of the way through, folks!

Scenario 2:

Part 39: Time warp!
[CLASSIFIED] Report: Index A
Part 40: Intersecting narratives
Part 41: Wow! Stuff happens!
Part 42: No loot for Medion
Part 43: Our first synchronization point
Part 44: Switching Point revisited
Part ???
Part 45: Oh, there's that Produn chap
Part 46: I should have thought twice about this difficulty thing
Part 47: Hark, a ninja!
Part 48: More filler, more yawning
Part 49: The most fight yet!
Zero Report: Index B
Part 50: Maybe we should stick to professional soldiers
Part 51: something something relationship joke
Part 52: More grinding than a trashy nightclub
Part 53: Dammit game, stop slogging
Part 54: Why did I have problems with this again?
Part 55: The other fight that almost made me ragequit
Part 56: beep boop
Part 57: JUST KILL THEM
Part 58: Technically, this is two fights
Part 59: MGS sure had a lovely Saturn port
Part 60: No, YOU shut the gently caress up, dad
Part 61: A few loose ends
Part 62: I should feel bad about farming, but I don't
Part 63: Double the forgettable bosses for half the price!
Part 64: They're going to start laying it on thick
Part 65: It's not like the alternate boss is much harder
Part 66: I forgot what part this was
Part 67: Redemption Round!
Part 68: Oops
Part 69: You had ONE job, David
Part 70: lovely plot twist!
Part 71: Just throw the rest of the gently caress yous into that pile over there

Scenario 3:

Part 72: Beginning of the End
Part 73: The bad exposition keeps coming
The Shining Force, Part 3.1
Part 74: Give me a break, again?
Part 75: Well, at least the boss is easy
Part 76: The most metal boss
Part 77: I said gently caress YEAH
Part 78: Wow, imperials are stupid
Part 79: Another boss, yawn
Part 80: Honestly, Honesty
The Shining Force, Part 3.2
Part 81: Metal Gear Solid 2 also had a bad port
Part 82: Republican generals, everyone
BONUS: Alternate universes
Part 83: Everyone is a moron
Part 84: Oops, I missed the best item




Bonus content!

Three weeks after RuanGacho took care of the fight for me, I gently caress it up twice in a row!
Premium Disc A (To be viewed after completing scenario 1 aka part 38)
Premium Disc B (To be viewed after completing scenario 2)
Character sketches!

SWORD RAVE!

inthesto fucked around with this message at Jul 23, 2016 around 11:18

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inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 1: Wordy intros? We 32 bit now.




There's an ominous title screen if I've ever seen one.




We start with an introduction from a fairy who slaps some old wizard on the face.



: Fey, are you sure this is the one we are looking for?

: Yes, I think. I'm pretty sure this one can do the job.

: I hope you're right. There's much to be done. Forgive us child, I don't doubt your ability, but the fate of many lives hangs in the balance. Didn't Fey explain the situation to you?

: The search took so long, I... Well there wasn't enough time!

: No time to explain now either. However, I can allow you to name the three heroes as you wish.

We're walking in the footsteps of Shining Force 2, where the framing device is a nameless traveler who's being coerced into carrying out a magical stranger's mission.

Although he is honest and full of kindness, during times of physical conflict the fury of this man's soul burns hotter and hotter as he releases the savageness of a tiger:


Naturally, I will be writing “honest and full of kindness” as “has no manners and gives no fucks”.

A brilliant man with a never failing composure and iron will that can't be swayed by emotions. He fights like a dragon and slices through the battlefield like the wind.


Saying Medion has an iron will is a complete lie, as we'll come to find out eventually.

He rises above all others with his strong spirit, but carries with him a sorrow, a past full of sadness. Once released of his sorrow, his soul will soar as he becomes a wolf with sharp and virtuous fangs.


Julian is an okay guy, even if he's a JRPG protagonist we've seen a million times before.

: It's time for you to go now. Fare thee well, Synbios. Preparations have been made so you will know what to do.

Considering there was a fair amount of depth written in to the world and plot, this framing device makes no loving sense, but I'll let it slide for the first disc.




The game opens with an aerial view of the city of Saraband. The city-state is actually a giant steam powered ship that sails along the coast, and lives prosperously through trade





The game treats the audience to a long pan throughout the city's downtown. People are just going about their lives, and this nice looking fellow is buying some flowers.



He then changes his clothes in the middle of the street. Not weird at all, promise.



He then approaches this big mansion. This might be important in a few minutes.




Outside the mansion, a pair of girls are waiting. The cantaul is sitting on the steps while the elf is trying to peek through a window.








The elf's bright idea turns out to not be so bright.



Well isn't this guy just a bundle of cheers.



: Just because the peace conference with the Empire isn't going well is no reason to act like an ogre.



: Remember, Tybalt, they wouldn't have invaded Barrand if YOU had quashed the revolt of your people, instead of begging the Empire for aid.

: Do you think I don't know that?! The guilt for inviting them into the holy land will stay with me forever...

: Be that as it may, as the entrance to the holy land of Elbesem, Barrand is an important strategic point. Even without your troubles, how long would it have been before the Emperor turned his greedy eyes towards you?

For the record, I'm editing out every unnecessary ellipses. I've cleaned out nine already.

: That is a hard truth, Dantares. With the people in revolt, you had no other choice. There was no way to stop the invasion by the Empire.

: As our Republic has but recently separated from the Empire, our own people do not yet understand the benefits of standing on our own. The Empire has taken advantage of that fact.

: We have poured our lifeblood into this while others tear down everything we accomplish. It is unbearable.

: 'Others tear down everything'? Who are you talking about?

: What do you mean who? Have you forgotten? The rabble General Varlant mentioned.

: I have not forgotten, but there's no need to bring that subject up now.

: I haven't heard about this. Please continue.



: I see. You don't look as if you are.

: Ah, Lord Conrad. It is a shame his health would not permit him to come. It is at times like this we need him the most.

: Are you unsatisfied with Synbios? You would prefer General Varlant, perhaps? Is that what you were implying, Tybalt?

Benetram gives no shits and is a pretty cool king.

: We know Varlant wanted to be here, Tybalt, but you know as well as any of us what a bad idea that would be.

: We all know Varlant is a good man, but you know his temper. He is not suited for such delicate negotiations.

: Uhh...

: You enlisted Dantares. he wouldn't be here unless he thought Synbios could make a difference.

drat right they called in Dantares. He is going to fix every god drat problem. Oh yeah, I guess Synbios can come along too.

: Lord Synbios may still be young, but I see him carrying the future of the Republic on his back, someday.

: Enough about me. I want to hear more about these troublemakers.

: I believe you were telling an interesting story, weren't you, Brutus?

: Um... oh... you mean about... It's really not that big of a deal.

: Our soldiers stationed in Balsamo, have reported some strange people in the area.

: I see. “Strange people.” Could you be perhaps a bit more specific?

: He refers to the ones General Varlant mentioned, the monks of that bizarre religious sect, the ones with the masks.

: They don't sound like a concern to me.

: General Varlant reported a group of pagan monks taking up residence in Balsamo prior to the start of the peace conference.

: Masked pagan monks...

: I don't understand how a pagan cult can proliferate on this continent in the face of the holy word of Elbesem.

: The people have enough to worry about. They shouldn't have their minds filled with that pagan nonsense.

: With the recent unrest, they're gaining quite a following preaching about the coming "new order".

: These monks sound like a bunch of cranks. Is there something else about them that alarms you?

: These pagans... They claim they pray for peace, but what if their true aim is more sinister?

Now that's just crazy talk, Benetram. A religious group attempting to seize power during political turmoil? This isn't Ivalice.

: Benetram, this is of no immediate concern.

: This sort of doomsday preaching can be heard everywhere in Barrand. People are eating up these fantasies.

: Benetram, you're a pessimist. There are nuts everywhere. Worry about all of them, and you'll become one.

: If those monks are the ones I've heard about, well, I have reason to be pessimistic.

: Let's talk about this some other time, shall we? We came all this way to talk peace with the Empire.

: Anyway, we should discuss our strategies in today's conference with the Empire while we still have time.

Somebody knocks on the door.

: What is it?

: Pardon the intrusion, my Lords... A messenger from Saraband is here to see you.

: I thought we still had plenty of time before the conference.

: That's all right. Bring him in.


Now class, is there anything fishy about this picture?

: You're here a bit ahead of schedule, aren't you?

: Lord Garvin suggests that given the current difficulties in the peace negotiations, a new approach may help. Before the official conference begins, he invites both yourself and the Emperor to an informal council.

: We weren't informed of this.

: This "informal council" is obviously an excuse to get all the advisors out of the room.

: Perhaps that's not such a bad idea. Without the confusion of many voices, the two of us might make progress. All right, I shall go.

: Are you planning on going without a bodyguard?

: I shall ask Edmund to accompany me.

: But I am the aggrieved party in this conference!

: Your emotions may hinder our discussion. In light of this, I believe you should remain here. I would also like to ask Synbios to do something for me. Unlike us, you are not well known here. Go speak with the people of Saraband, and learn what you can.

: As you order, Benetram.

: Even though the Emperor Domaric and I meet today, I would not expect to resolve everything just like that. Besides, you are too serious, like your father. You could use some time relaxing among the people. I also need to tell Dantares something. I think an Imperial knight, Campbell, is here in Saraband accompanying the youngest prince, Medion.

: Campbell sounds familiar. I've heard tales of a brave knight.

They were talking about you, Dantares.

: A while ago, during a border skirmish, he fought brilliantly against us. You may find him somewhere in town. I am ready. Thank you for waiting, messenger.



: So, now what do we do?

: Nothing to do but wait. But you have a job to do, Synbios. You'd better go.



And just like that, we already have the best character in the game. No, I'm not kidding in any way, shape, or form. By the end of this scenario, we will have everyone in this thread addressing Dantares as “General Dantares”.

To quickly recap the plot, since this is a lot of information to dump all at once: Synbios is probably a general in the Aspinian Republic. His colleague, Lord Tybalt of Barrand couldn't quell some civil unrest, and called on the army of the Destonian Empire to supress it. As a result, the empire seized control of Barrand, and now Tybalt has come running to the rest of the republic to negotiate Barrand back into his hands. Also, the republic has a monarch for some reason.



: You might be able to discover something there.

Just in case we don't know where to go or don't want to waste out time milling about, Brutus tells us exactly where to go.


: You must fill the void this has created.

While Synbios is outright stated to be a rookie, his fellow generals and lords still treat him with the respect of an equal. It's an interesting dynamic that will meet some serious contrast in the beginning of Scenario 2.



As per RPG traditions, we can loot random shelves and boxes for stuff. There's not much of importance in Saraband for now, but I snatched these coins as an example.




Cabinets that don't have any loot in them can generate on of several amusing messages. This one is the one that stands out, and sadly this is not the last mention of underwear we will see in the game.



Before we can leave the mansion, we're stopped by the cantaul who was waiting outside.

: Ah, it is you, Grace. So, where is Masqurin?

: That little minx, she's afraid she'll be scolded and is curled up hiding somewhere.

: She got me in trouble. In the middle of the conference, she peeked through the window.

: Oh please, I bet you to forgive her. She regrets what she did.

: None of the other generals are watching. Let it slide, Dantares.

: Please don't ask that of me, my lord. If we let Masqurin off so easily, it would not be good for her. But since you insist, I'll let her off with a warning this time.

: You can come out now, Masqurin! Sir Dantares says he'll forgive you.



: Masqurin, what am I to do with you?



: The messenger gave them to me earlier. I'm presenting them as my way of saying I'm sorry for what happened.

Aww, isn't Masquirn jus- Wait, who did she say gave those to her?

: You think this qualifies as an apology?

: Would you like some too, Lord Synbios?

: Ahem! Masqurin! I'm not finished with you!



Before you ask, no these don't do anything.

: Yes, what were you saying?

: Oh, never mind. Due to King Benetram's generosity, we get to see the sights of Saraband. Let's not waste any more time.



And like that, we've got our first fighting team. And just as a note, I edited out over forty ellipses in this update alone. This game's script is going to end up killing me.

NEXT TIME: Calibrate the “OH gently caress IT'S DANTARES” counter!

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


The Shining Force: Part 1


”His father Conrad was a primary founder of the Republic. Synbios is a fervent defender of Republican ideology, but is realizing the difficulty of making it a reality."
Pros: Learns Spark, gets an early mithril weapon, good support skill
Cons: Mediocre stats all around, game over if he dies
Spells: Return, Spark
Support: Attack Up
Thoughts: Synbios, in addition to having the stupidest name on record, is the wimpiest protagonist in Shining Force history. Take Nick's weak offense with Bowie's mediocre defense, add the fact that he uses a weapon that's weak in the triangle, and you get this guy. His only saving grace is that you find a unique weapon suited for him fairly early in the game, saving his lame stat growths.


”Elite Republican knight. Conrad request he escort Synbios to the peace conference. Engaged in a rivalry with Sir Campbell.”
Pros: He's Guntz with 7 MOV
Cons: I'm not kidding
Support: Enemy Critical Down
Thoughts: As if to say they were sorry for all the mediocre knights in the previous Shining Force games, Camelot gives us this murder machine right off the bat. He starts with high base stats, has steady, high growths, and has advantage over sword wielders. His stats are so insane, by the endgame he'll be performing one hit KOs and struggling to find anyone who can scratch his HP bar. Sadly, this still doesn't put him in the top five most broken Shining Force characters of all time.


”Elvin mage who has served Synbios since childhood. Her personality is carefree and unrestrained, but she's a valuable asset to Synbios' army.”
Pros: Excellent spell set, excellent support
Cons: Fragile, capable of burning through mana quickly
Support: Magic Up
Spells: Blaze, Spark, Attack
Thoughts: The upgraded magic system is enough of a boon, but Camelot first gives us a mage that learns Spark (the new name for Bolt) AND Attack? With the way magic works in Shining Force 3, Masqurin's only real problem will be trying to decide between vomiting multitarget damage on the enemy or cranking a teammate's offense into the sky.


”Priest of the cantaul race. She and Masqurin have attended to Synbios from a young age. Befitting one who serves Elbesem, she has a calm and gentle personality.”
Pros: Healer
Cons: Healer
Support: Magic Defense Up, Luck Up
Spells: Heal, Antidote, Aura
Thoughts: Priests are in a weird space in Shining Force 3. They don't hit hard and don't gain quite as much experience as they did in Shining Force 2, but they generally have better and more flexible spell sets, along with being able to target weird enemy vulnerabilities. Regardless, we're going to want to keep Grace around, as she's our only source of multitarget healing, and all the other healers have very limited MP pools.

inthesto fucked around with this message at Jun 14, 2013 around 16:48

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 2: Dantares only gets better, folks



We're finally treated to the ability to walk around and do things. Saraband is a pretty big city, consisting of four separate areas. There's a lot to explore, but much of it is redundant fluff. For now, take note of these soldier sprites, as we'll be seeing them a lot. The green ones are allied Republican soldiers, while the golds are neutral Saraband guards. Enemy Imperial soldiers will be colored blue.


: I'm surprised to see you attending the conference, and I'm deeply honored to meet you.

OH gently caress IT'S DANTARES (OFID) Counter: 1



Over to the side, we meet a guy tending to a coop of pigeons.



Guy with a portrait, which means we're eventually either recruiting him or murdering him. Also, as we'll find out, saying “poor village in the Republic” is going to be redundant.



: I liked it so much, I joined the Saraband Guard. However, I'm thinking about moving on again.

Behind the pigeon coop, we get potential ally/enemy #2. Apparently, the Saraband Guard employs a lot of archers.



If we say yes:



I hope you people are putting together the pieces by now. It's not really all that subtle. On the other hand, if we say no:



You should stop and spend some time admiring flowers, even during battle. It may prove useful!

Yeah, uh, last time I did that.



Thanks, but no thanks.

In all seriousness, this is the game's hint that searching for stuff during battle will yield you some nice items.



: When Emperor Domaric came to power, laws to divide nobility from the middle class were passed, and we're living with the results.


: We left the Empire, and became citizens of Saraband. Your father and other Republican pioneers fought impossible odds against Emperor Domaric's terrifying army, but succeeded in founding their own country.


: The Republic, which is based on equality, is plagued with budgetary hardships. So, Saraband is really the ideal nation.

This is more or less all the exposition that we need for now. There used to be a single empire ruled by Domaric, but twenty years ago a bunch of aristocrats banded together and revolted, separating and forming the Aspinian Republic. Most of the major Republican players in that war were in the introduction we just sat through, with the notable absence of Conrad, Synbios' father. While the republic seems nice and spouts principles of egalitarianism, the reality is that it still has an aristocratic class and most of the common people don't have enough food to eat.



Wandering outside, we happen upon this equestrian fellow in nice threads tending to his laundry.



We answer yes, because this will become important on the second disc.



I look forward to your answer after many more battles. Tell me again the next time we meet.

Well, he certainly was a cool fellow. I wonder which war made him a veteran. But where did that portrait come from?

Milling around, there's a bunch of stuff to pilfer in various houses, but there's only one thing I particularly care about right now.




Yep, mithrils are back and the game gives you way too many of them. They're not going to be useful until much later in the game, but it's handy to collect them when you can.



Heading over to the east, we wander into the district housing the Imperial army.



These guys don't exactly have a high opinion of us. If we wander too far into Imperial territory



: This is looking rather grim, Grace.

: What's so grim about it, Republican soldiers?

: I think we've come to a bad place. I think we should turn around now.

: Oh no, wait a second! You people must be spies! Do you think we'd let spies escape so easily?

To be fair, he is correct. Benetram's orders were more or less to gather intel in the city.

: You come to the Imperial district and think you can get away with it? I think we need to beat some sense into your thick skulls.

: Hey, I don't like your tone. Are you challenging us? You actually think you're worthy enough to fight us?

: Ha! You think you can fight us on our own turf? And still win?

: There's only one way to find out. Prepare to learn how hard it is to win a battle when you've lost an arm or two.

General Dantares don't gently caress around.




: Yes, I'm Medion.

: That gentleman over there is Sir Dantares. Some say he is even stronger than I.

OFID Counter: 2

: Even stronger than Sir Campbell? Boy, did we choose the wrong guy to pick a fight with.

: I won't try to stop you, but if I were you I wouldn't fight him. So, what will you do? It seems you have been quite rude to these people. I wonder if they will forgive you.



The Imperial mooks line up in file and exit one by one, saluting Campbell on their way out. Make note that they don't actually salute Medion.

OFID Counter: 7



Dantares' attitude here is wonderful. “Yeah, I would have ripped those guys limb from limb. Thanks for saving me the trouble."

: Don't mention it. I simply spared a few Imperial soldiers' lives.

: Sorry for stirring trouble, but I wasn't going to back down from those threats.

: It is we, the Imperial army, who should apologize to you for acting so rudely.

: It's our fault for wandering into your territory so indiscreetly.

: If we keep going on like this with the formalities, it'd take an eternity.

: I saw you fight in the battle at the border awhile back, Sir Dantares. I don't look forward to facing you on the battlefield anytime soon.

OFID Counter: 8

: I was about to say the same thing, Sir Campbell. Your repulation in battle preceeds you.

: Is the person next to you, by any chance, Lord Synbios? The son of Lord Conrad, the great general?

: That would be I, standing in place of my father.

: Your father is still considered a hero in the Empire. So, you are his son.

: Either way, it cannot be just a coincidence that we met like this in the Imperial district.

: Coincidence, possibly. To tell you the truth, we are investigating the masked monks.

: Masked monks?



Suddenly, explosions.

: I see now. those explosives were for this occasion.

: Well that much is obvious. However, for what reason?

: We don't know what these monks are after yet, but for the moment we should return to our respective camps and assess the damages.

: Lord Synbios, we must head back. The timing is unfortunate as I think we have much in common. Let us be sure to talk again.

: Likewise to you, Medion.

: Let's hurry back to our camp, too.

But first, let's check in with those rude dudes on our way out.





Just like we thought, Imperials are all cowards.



As soon as we leave the Imperial district and reenter the central district, some guy with a huge schnoz shows up.

: We detonated the explosive in time. He seems to have returned to his headquarters.



Oh, it's a mask. Funny, that outfit looks familiar if it didn't have the huge mask protruding from the hood.

: You're not Medion and his allies. You are swine from the Republic!

He doesn't like Imperials or Republicans? There's a third faction at play?

: It seems these are thee ones Medion was pursuing.

: Enough being talked down to. Take him out!

: Hah! Do you think you can fight me with that pitiful band? I'll cut you all to pieces!


And he summons a few identical buddies.






And here's our starting stat rollout. As you can see, Dantares is just plain better at everything than everyone else, and it's going to stay that way. In Shining Force 2 tradition, our hero is barely any better than our healer, but at least our mage is baller as hell.




The map reveals that we're fighting four against five, but the monks have pretty low stats, so it's not much to worry about. The one talky monk at the beginning does have two extra points of attack and one more hit point, making him a mini-boss of sorts, but he's just as easy to take down as the rest.



The easy way to deal with this fight is to just hide around the corner of the church and hang out until they come to you. With the monks in a single file line, it's easy to take down one or two in a single round before they get a chance to do any real damage.



Masqurin opens with Blaze 1, which does much more damage than previous incarnations. Recall that the monks only have 14 HP a piece. This spell which costs 2 MP is hitting them really drat hard, and given the way magic works in Shining Force 3, will continue to hit really drat hard for very little cost.



The exclamation point above the monk's head indicates weapon advantage. Shining Force 3 implemented a weapon triangle, copied straight out of Fire Emblem: Spears beat swords, swords beat axes, and axes beat spears. If you have advantage over an enemy, your critical chance and damage go up by a small but significant amount. If you attack an enemy when you have disadvantage (which has no icon associated, so you'd better be paying attention), the enemy gains an increased dodge and counter chance. Since the monks are all wielding swords and Dantares a lance... well, you can guess what this means.



I forgot to cap the damage number, but he deals 10 damage. I don't know exactly what the advantage bonus is, but running the numbers, Dantares would ordinarily do 8 damage, so he's getting a +2 bonus here.




On the other hand, when the monk attempts to attack Dantares on its turn, the weapon disadvantage rolls in our favor. Unilke previous games, counters deal full damage, and thus are pretty drat deadly. This results in a dead monk.




On the other hand, Synbios does pathetic damage without weapon advantage. He's only three points of attack below Dantaers, but he's doing six less damage. Ouch.




And just like Shining Force 2's gizmo fight, the first fight in this game gives you pathetic gold and experience. At least we're getting healing items for free.



In normal Shining Force fashion, the enemy AI is programmed to dogpile on the protagonist whenever possible. The normal monks hit Synbios for three damage each, but the big guy hits for five. It can get deadly pretty quickly, but that's why Grace is around.





Once again, healer experience scales on what percentage of your target's HP you restored. I've never known the actual formula and I'll probably never figure it out.




It's best to take out the beefier monk as soon as possible. He hits everyone but Dantares pretty drat hard, so we don't want him linger around, even if it means overkilling.



With the big guy dead, cleaning up the rest is trivial, since they only do significant damage to Masqurin, and the AI would rather try to scratch Synbios' armor.

Battle Report!

Level 2 1 HP/1 ATT/1 DEF/1 AGI
Level 2 1 HP/3 MP/1 ATT/1 DEF/1 AGI

Please do not point out how it's only possible to level up if you repeat this battle. I may or may not have let the big monk latch onto Synbios my first time around.



Not pictured: The rotting corpse of a faceless monk Synbios' army just slaughtered.

: These monks are obviously responsible for the explosions. In any case, let's get back to our headquarters.

NEXT TIME: Buy some colored contacts!

inthesto fucked around with this message at Apr 29, 2014 around 20:02

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


FireSight posted:

For the love of god, let me know what emulator you found that WORKS.

I've been trying to play SF3 for YEARS, I even own physical copies in japanese (but sadly lack a working Saturn because nobody SELLS working ones... bastards). Hell, I'm working on a game design degree just to try and revive the Strategy RPG genre, with the SF series as one of my main inspirations.

Poke around for the latest builds of SSF. I don't know if it's kosher to link emulators in here and it takes a bit of legwork to get things working (the translation patches actually have a few known crash points, so you have to do some clever disc swapping), but the game can be played reasonably well at this point.

ultrafilter posted:

This looks interesting, and I'll follow it. How much am I missing out on by not being familiar with the previous two games?

Not much. While the Shining Force games all take place in the same universe, the connections are generally very subtle. There's already been one that a veteran player who's not on the lookout might have missed. I'll be making in-universe references myself from time to time (as I already did with the flower joke), but I'll let the thread explain them if anyone has questions.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


geri_khan posted:

I love this game - the characters are great, the plot is good, music is fantastic, the battle animations are fun to watch, and certain characters are complete loving beasts. There's a lot of depth and secrets. I even love how it ties into Shining the Holy Ark. (maybe I should LP that one) But somehow I never got around to putting the time into Scenarios 2 and 3 when they became available. So really looking forward to more.

Please do! I actually don't know anything about the dungeon crawler Shining titles (I always got lost in the very beginning of SitD), so I'd like to see the lore connections myself.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!



Yep, those are all actual lines from Shining Force 3. Luckily, none of the dialogue is voice acted, and that's just stuff from casting spells and the like. The game mercifully includes an option to turn off voices.

Chances are, the localization team just handed a few lines for the interns to read and recorded it all in one take.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


I actually had no idea that they were different. Thankfully, through the magic of emulation, it'll be easy enough to show both.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 3: This really couldn't be any more obvious



Now that we've brutally massacred some religious heretics, let's get back to HQ and sort this all out.



Okay, either this is some kind of Voltron tribute performance art, or something sinister is going on.



: King Benetram, by any chance is the person with you the Emperor Domaric?

: Indeed, I am Domaric. Are you not the knight, Dantares, who fought in the defeat of Campbell's army at the coast? That means this child next to you would be the son of Conrad.

: What is going on here? Please give me an answer, King Benetram!



Now the game isn't even bothering with subtlety anymore.

: Are you saying that you don't know of this infamous plan to return Barrand in exchange for my life? That no one knew of this? What a farce.

: Benetram, are you trying to sabotage the peace talks? Release the emperor now!

: Even if we release the Emperor now, it won't change a thing. The die is cast.


Well doesn't that just sound ominous.



: Please release Emperor Domaric! I, Dantares, upon my oath as a knight, can not allow even you to abduct the Emperor!

: Interesting... So you're saying you will cut me down if I try to leave with the Emperor?



I don't care if he's being sarcastic. That's going on the tally.

OFID Counter: 9

: What are you waiting for? Stop wasting my time! Hurry up and do it! Ah, so you've changed your mind. Then my business here is complete, and I'll be on my way!



Domaric, who the hell are you talking to?

: We can't just give up yet! King Benetram will be at the camp. We've got to try once more to talk some sense into him!

: Don't you think he was acting kind of strange? And why was the King with those monks? We must figure out the truth.

Grace currently gets the “Least Dumbass Team Member” award. Now let's get back to headquarters.



: What's wrong, Synbios? You look a little pale.

: What is the matter Synbios?

: Where's Emperor Domaric?

: Did you say Emperor Domaric?



Brutus charges on in. If there's one small touch I like about this game, it's how they play with the dialogue boxes to add emphasis to things.

: What are you talking about, Brutus?

: You have attacked Saraband! And on top of that... What have you done with the Emperor Domaric?!? The Governor General's office is up in arms!

: Masqurin also asked the same thing. What is going on with the Emperor?

: We all saw it. King Benetram abducted the Emperor Domaric and took him away to the camp!

: What? When did you see that?

: It was just a couple of minutes ago.

: Do you see, Benetram? There is a Republican witness. Do you still want to play innocent?

: But Benetram was here! He returned quite a while ago, saying that the Emperor did not show up.

: However, we really did see it. There's no doubt, it was King Benetram.

Except for the different colored eyes and the completely different speech pattern. Stick to impaling things, Dantares.

: So you saw. Are you sure that it was me?

: That's right! There is another witness to Benetram's doings! Edmund was with him as well.

: Indeed, I was with King Benetram. I was with him the whole time. He never left my sight. Benetram is telling the truth. Domaric did not show up at the conference room. He most certainly did not abduct him.

: Edmund is a man of few words, but he is a trustworthy general who would not lie. So what IS going on here?

: Then, perhaps Synbios saw both Benetram AND Edmund abducting the Emperor!

: Dantares, tell them.

: General Edmund was not there. Instead of him, the king was with a group of masked monks when he came out from the governor's mansion.

: Actually, during the chaos of the attack, we came across a group of those masked monks.

And, on Synbios' orders, killed them without a second thought.

: They attacked us but it was nothing we couldn't handle. They were quite vicious, epecially for monks.

: Are they by chance...

: We did not make the connection back then, but I believe they are the masked pagan worshipers of Balsamo.

: It begins to make sense.

Benetram is going to be mumbling to himself like this throughout the entire game. Apparently he figures everything out much faster than anyone else does, but never actually bothers explaining things until after it's over.

: Do you know something about this, Benetram? Now that I think about it, you were curious about these monks from the very beginning. What is going on?

: It's only speculation, but it seems the perpetrators want me and the Republic to take the blame for this crime.

Okay, it's not like he needed to really explain that one.

: Even while we try to clear ourselves, the Imperial army just might try to wipe us out altogether.

: Since this 'incident' happened in the neutral country of Saraband, their forces will also become our enemies.

: If we stay in Saraband, we are surrounded by enemies. If we go outside, the Imperial territories are filled with enemies. If we must fight, we should move forward and not look back.

: While you make your escape, I shall go to Governor Garvin, and tell him the truth.

: As you are on good terms with Garvin, your pleas might indeed be helpful.

: Trade with Saraband is vital to our country. We must persuade Governor Garvin of our innocence. Brutus. Can I rely on you?

: We'll have to forget about the Barrand peace negotiations for the time being. Still, it will not be easy to escape.

Of course, Tybalt is still a selfish jerk.

: We must not let the Imperial army all work together. We will only find a viable route if we split them up.

: I volunteer my forces to be used as a decoy. While my army creates a diversion for the Imperial army, you can leave Saraband with Synbios' forces, and return to Aspinia

: General Edmund, but that could be...

: Dantares is correct, Edmund. If you do that you will be throwing away your life.

: But if I do not, it won't be just me but ALL of us.

: Therefore, I will join my forces with yours! I cannot stand the Imperial army. If Edmund fights alongside me, I can get my revenge against Destonia!

: Tybalt... Edmund...

: I knew something like this would happen, so I was readty with a skiff. Let's go to the shore and start some trouble!

: Your lives are important... Please, try not to waste them.

Exeunt Tybalt and Edmund

: What are you doing, Benetram? You're under suspicion for all of this! You must get out of here quickly! Edmund and Tybalt's armies will be moving very shortly. Don't waste their sacrifice!

: Let us, too, get moving.



: I didn't bring you here for this, but... I know, this is a great responsibility with no warning. I'm relying on you, Synbios.

: I won't let you down, Benetram.

: I'll deal with things here. Take good care of Benetram.

There's not really anything left to do in Saraband. If we try to go anywhere other than outside, Dantares will interrupt us and tell us to go to the docking pier.



And here's our destination. Naturally, getting out isn't going to be as easy as we'd like.




They're perforated with arrows, despite the fact that none of the monks use bows.



Dantares sounds strangely disappointed that he won't have to trample over the local militia.

: By any reckoning, this is a sad state of affairs.



: If that's you, and you're here, then who is that other Benetram?



At least Hayward is smart enough to figure out that the Benetram with an entourage of Republican soldiers is the real one.

: We can't allow that. The affairs of Saraband will be resolved by Saraband's soldiers, even if it costs us our lives.

This line is amusing. Although I didn't cap it, if you talk to random townsfolk, you realize that Saraband doesn't place much cultural importance on the military, and as a result, its soldiers are second-rate.

: Heh, I see. You will regret disobeying King Benetram as I put you to death.



That doesn't look good.



Once again, who the hell are you whispering to, Domaric?

: I am surprised to hear the “Lord of Massacres” Emperor Domaric would be so compassionate. Well then, in defense of Emperor Domaric's wishes, we will make your end swift and merciful.

: Stop... Ugh... Run away, my brother! Run!

: You're still alive, Garosh!



: Ha! Regrettably, your advice comes a bit late.



Spinning text boxes are fun.

: No! My dear brother!

Oh please, he didn't have a portrait. He couldn't be that dear to you.

: How sadistic.

: My sources tell me the Republican army has escaped Saraband.

: The main Republican forces have deployed in the adjacent plains and the battle rages as we speak.

: Benetram is still alive. He used the bulk of his forces as a decoy. He's quite clever.

: It seems the mystery is beginning to unravel. That looks like King Benetram, but why are there no Republican guards with him? There's something wrong here.

Hayward joins Grace on the “Not Dumbasses” list.



: Please hurry ahead with Domaric. I'll catch up with you once we have things in hand here.

: They intend to kill the guard who overhead their plan and us along with him. That guard is the only witness who can prove my innocence. We must do everything we can to protect him.

There's actually two Saraband guards who can act as witnesses, and yet the we can't send the smarter one back to Garvin.

: If anything happens to you, my lord, our decoy forces will have risked their lives for nothing. Please leave this to us.

: I understand. I'll stay out of the way and wish you luck.



The battlefield this time is just a straight line down. Ignore the green blips at the bottom; those are just barrels and I have no idea why they show up on the map.




Two new enemies. Bats have high evasion and can poison, but are very easy to kill. The masked priest is a boss who's a fat stack of hit points and not much else.



One nice thing Shining Force 3 added was this little icon. It indicates the boss of the fight, meaning that if we kill him, everyone else goes down too.




Another cool thing Shining Force 3 does is give stats to characters who aren't even supposed to be in the fight. Obviously, we're not supposed to be loving around with the fake Benetram yet. Domaric, on the other hand, looks awfully wimpy for such a menacing title.



Finally, we have this guy whom we're supposed to rescue. His stats are god awful, and if we don't beeline for him immediately, he's going to die. I also forgot to cap Hayward's stats, but suffice it to say that he's better than Synbios despite being a level lower.



: I see, so that what's going on. So many hidden enemies. Both Benetram and even I, Domaric, are mere pawns in this twisted scheme.

At the start of the second turn, the impostor and Domaric take their leave. The map is big enough that nothing actually happens before then.






Because Garosh and Hayward start halfway up the map, a bunch of enemies start attacking them instantly. They both get hit for 3 damage each,but the AI prioritizes Garosh over Hayward. If you don't make it to Garosh by the end of turn 3, he will die.




And this is why we don't really need to be afraid of bats. Apparently Masqurin spent some time studying how to cook in Alterone.



On the third turn, Synbios will be just in range to move next to Garosh and talk to him. It doesn't matter which character you use, but because there's so little variance this early in the game, this is what happens every time.

: You are members of the real Republican army? To imperonate King Benetram and take the life of my brother... I shall make them pay for this! I'll go now to inform Govenor Garvin of this, and dispel all the lies about you. I'll catch up to you later.

There's no real reason why Garosh couldn't have just run off on his own. If you manage to save Garosh like this, he will join Medion's army in scenario 2. However, if we choose to let him die:



He won't show up in scenario 2, instead being replaced by another character. While both characters are decent enough, Garosh is more focused on being a glass cannon whereas his replacement can take a few hits. Also, his replacement has a unique class and a much cooler sprite. Either way, it has little effect on the plot. At the end of this update, please vote on whether we want to save Garosh or leave him to bite the dust.

On the other hand, there's another Saraband archer we can chat up:



: I see the famous Sir Dantares is with you. Does that mean you are the army of the great Lord Conrad?

OFID Counter: 10

: His son Synbios commands here. We are chasing those masked monks and their impostor.

: To pursue such a powerful enemy... you seem to be at an obvious disadvantage in strength.

: If you want to help, we can discuss payment after we're done fighting!

: Please, allow me to join your band! I've dreamed of fighting alongside a famous warrior like Sir Dantares.

OFID Counter: 11



And now we have the second best character in scenario 1. Camelot really is destroying all expectations.




Like I said, Hayward is already far, far better than Synbios.



Between being able to one-shot bats with Masqurin and not taking any damage from monks, this fight is fairly trivial. The only real challenge is saving Garosh and Hayward.





A lot of maps will have breakable barrels sitting around. They always die in one hit and always give you 5 experience. Sometimes they'll have items hidden in them. Naturally, it's always good to bust them open if you have the time, because why not? On this map, one of the barrels contains a medical herb, and that's it.




Nope, not really scared. Also remember that the boss has even less attack than the mooks.




Archers still get weapon advantage over flying enemies. I don't think it's a flat +25% damage bonus like it was in Shining Force 2, instead staying in line with all the other weapon advantages in the game.



Our first status effect! This is slightly annoying, because Grace hasn't learned antidote yet, so we either have to burn up an antidote herb or wait until after the fight and drag Hayward to a priest.



Another fun thing about Shining Force 3: Poison no longer does a flat 2 damage per turn. It either scales on the enemy that inflicted it or on your max HP. Not really sure which.




All that's left is to surround and pound the boss. Like I said, he's got a lot of HP but no damage. For the record, Synbios hits the boss for 7, while Hayward hits for 10. That's right, our hero is being outdone by the initial archer and it's going to stay that way.




The boss does pack Tornado (formerly known as Blast). It only deals 5 damage to a single target, and thus is not much of a threat. Unfortunately, I couldn't cap the animation, but we'll be seeing it plenty more anyway.



Masqurin, on the other hand, collects free and easy experience from the stragglers.




More new stuff in Shining Force 3! A non-healer using a healing item now grants more than 1 experience! Not much more, but it's something.



Let's just finish this with priest on priest violence, because Grace needs the experience anyway.



: In any case, Garosh is taking much too long. I wonder if he was able to clear our name.

: That's not our concern now. We need to hunt down those monks and end this abduction.

: If we waste any more time, they'll have too much of a head start. We must leave at once for Balsamo!

: I see. You're referring to the information we got from General Varlant about their base of operations. Let's go after them.

Wait, what information from Varlant? We haven't even met the guy yet.

On the other hand, if we failed to save Garosh, the dialogue is slightly different:



: We did our best, but he would have only had so much influence. Right now, we need to catch those monks instead.

: Indeed. Synbios, they must be headed for Balsamo. We must pursue them! If we hurry, we can still catch them.

: Let's be off before a search party from Saraband or the Empire can catch up to us.

Please remember to vote over whether we save Garosh or not.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Ardeem posted:

minor spoilers

I'd appreciate if you put some spoiler tags around that, or just changed it to "his replacement" instead.

Anyway, the variance between Garosh and his replacement isn't large. Scenario 2 gives you way too many characters of their class type anyway.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 4: This is why sexual harassment claims exist



Last we left off, I had intentionally saved this barrel off to the side because I knew I'd have to replay this fight. I certainly didn't forget about it and the nice treasure it was hiding. Honest.




If you break it during combat, afterward you'll be able to board this ship and grab this treasure chest. The game will do this quite a few times, where there are small areas with items accessible only if you break some barrels during the fight. Luckily, these barrels will never be too far out of the way.

We pick up a battle bracer, which we will immediately throw onto Synbios, because he's going to need it to stay out of the shadows of Dantares and Hayward. And Masqurin too.

Anyways, at a reader's request, let's check in with how Garosh's buddies are doing. I mean, this is still a 90s JRPG, so the faceless NPCs probably won't even have different lines, right?





You goons are a heartless bunch.












Another thing I like about this game is that while it does play the “horrors of war” angle often, rarely does it force it down your throat. It's there if you look for it by talking to nameless NPCs, but you always have the option of skipping it.

Also, we get a pretty nice item out of it, which I'll be showing in a bit.

Once we're outside of Saraband:



: That's because General Tybalt and General Edmund are keeping the Imperials busy for a while.

: This isn't the only place that's quiet, Saraband is like a graveyard. Somehow... it makes me uneasy.

: In any case, we should leave now... It's risky to travel in such a small band, and we have to return all the way back to the Republic.

: As traveling to the Republic could be too dangerous, let us make for Railhead. That should be safer.

: That's a long detour, Benetram.

: Have you prepared something for this circumstance, my lord?

: I ordered General Produn to await us there. It would have been reckless coming to Saraband otherwise.

I'm sure the Produn guy is an organized and professional chap, who would never gently caress around with his subordinates.

: Saraband is neutral, but floating in the middle of Imperial waters, it could be very dangerous.

: We must head for Balsamo first. If we can rescue Emperor Domaric, we might get the peace process moving again.




Kind of looks like they're doing that thing where you roll a guy up in a carpet and throw him down a hill.

: Domaric is just unconscious. With Imperial and Republican armies nearby, we can't risk having him causing a ruckus. We thought the battle had moved north, and that you were all dead. Our party must have been defeated. You seem dead set on coming after us. If that's the case, I shall help you achieve at least the 'dead' part.

: While we dally with these monks, my impostor is escaping with Domaric! Stop them! Hurry, Synbios!




This fight looks really easy already. Nothing new, just monks, bats, and a priest as the boss again. They were easy enough to clean out last time, and we don't have the task of saving anyone who's out of position this time. Sounds about as easy as it'll get.



So easy, I'm not afraid of letting Masqurin punch them.



However, when you move roughly halfway across the map, and horn blares:




: A pursuit party from Saraband! Synbios, we must make for Balsamo! Try to stay ahead of them and stick to terrain that is unsuitable for horsemen!

That translates to “any terrain that isn't plains”, but really?




These guys are barely any better than the monks we're fighting. The only real difference is that they're wielding spear-type weapons, meaning Dantares no longer gets weapon advantage over them and Synbios now has disadvantage. None of this matters because we can still kill the mooks in two hits, and the commander isn't all that dangerous either.



Saraband soldiers really are second-rate! They still die in two hits from everyone but Grace, so no worries at all.




Even Synbios doesn't give a gently caress about the weapon triangle right now.



They still give lovely experience, though. Strangely, Shining Force 3 just gives you crappy experience until you hit chapter 4.





Since Benetram brought it up (and because there's not much of interest in this fight), let's talk about terrain now. The window with “LE” next to Grace's status window represents the Land Effect. Back in the day, Shining Force players thought this meant how much the terrain inhibited your movement, but that was incorrect. What Land Effect actually does is give you a bonus to defense: 0% means you're using your base defense, whereas 30% means you getting an extra 30% to your score if you get hit. The confusion stems from the fact that movement inhibition is correlated with higher LE, but different classes all have their movement affected differently by different types of terrain. For example, archers tend to move freely inside forest terrain, while anything with hooves gets tripped up by anything that's not plains. This will all become extremely obvious when we find sand terrain, which offers 0% LE but still slows everyone down to a crawl.



The game is nice and merciful when this ambush happens. The commander and the knights in the back don't use their full movement range for two or three turns, which allows you to mop them up in waves. If they all charged you at once, it'd be pretty easy to get overwhelmed.




You want to tilt with Dantares? Just try it, rear end in a top hat.



: If you want Emperor Domaric back, you'll have to follow me here!

This happens on the third or fourth turn, and is completely inevitable. We were going to follow him anyway.



Yawn.



Pretty much the only thing I have to worry about. However the AI is programmed to prioritize Synbios first. He only takes 2 damage per hit and has 13 HP, so it's not a problem even if four guys leash onto him.



This little trinket that we got from Garosh's little buddy is pretty nice. While the defense boost isn't much, it does give us a rare boost to luck. Luck is a new stat in Shining Force 3 that influences the rate of your criticals and counters, along with a few other things I probably don't know about. The thing is, it doesn't go up when you level up, being static for each character. Therefore, items that boost it are pretty valuable. I throw it onto Hayward since archer criticals are a good thing.



Another nice thing, any time you give a character a new piece of equipment, they have the option to immediately equip it, regardless of where you are.




3 damage to Dantares, which would mean 4 – 6 on other characters. This would be problematic if he had any buddies around.




On the other hand, Masqurin and Dantares can knock him to half HP instantly.





Yep, so long as I have Grace around, this isn't any trouble at all.





Another nice piece of fluff is that the animation and descriptive text changes on a successful evasion, depending on who's doing it. If it's a melee character, it's usually a “block”, but flying characters will “dodge”. If it's a ranged attack who gets evaded, they will “miss.” No functional difference, but it's little things that count.



Hayward gives his former CO the bridge treatment and we can all move on, because the rest of this fight is really boring.



After cleaning out the other two knights behind the commander, all that's left is a bat and the boss priest. If the screenshot looks confusing, don't fret. Everything to do with the camera in Shining Force 3 kind of sucks.



And while we're still on this boring fight, it's a perfect time to go over supports. There's two ways to build support level in the game: Either have two characters attack the same target, or have them heal each other. Do it enough, and this will happen:



Now that Synbios and Hayward have a support level, we'll see this icon:



This means that any time Hayward sits in a tile adjacent to Synbios, he will enjoy Synbios' support bonus.





That is an absolutely incredible boost this early in the game, and will be the only good thing about Synbios for most of the game.

A few other things to note about supports. There are five support levels, but jumping from 0 (Ally) to 1 (Partner) is always the biggest jump. If you can get the support level to 4 (Soulmate), then the support takes effect if you're one tile away. The support type is always based on class, so Dantares will have the same support as all other knights, Synbios will have the same as all other swordsmen, etc. If the support grants a defensive bonus (i.e. Dantares' lowering of criticals or Grace's magic defense bost) it will appear as a shield instead of a sword.

Finally, if a character dies, all of their support levels go down by one. This is a pretty drat good reason to keep characters alive without the “reset if somebody dies” style of Fire Emblem.

Anyways, the priest goes down without much of a fight.




So there's that Varlant guy they've mentioned a few times now.

: The fierce fighting against the Empire continues, and they are moving north as we speak. Lord Tybalt ordered me to come here and assist King Benetram in his escape. However, it seems that my help isn't needed.

: Not so. There is an Imperial ship near Saraband with an army aboard. Sooner or later they will come ashore.

: I see. Yes, just as you say, they could come ashore anytime.



With the arrival of the ships, an Imperial general makes her way out of Saraband.



: You! I see you are a Republican general. Be a man and identify yourself instead of cowering in anonymity!

drat, she don't gently caress around either.

: How dare you say that! I am General Varlant of Barrand! Tremble in fear before me!

: Ah, so you're Varlant... I had hoped to someday meed you on the field of battle, and find out if the rumors are true. White Knights, form up for battle!



Please skip all jokes about how the one female general's army is titled the White Knights. Thank you.




Crewart is just as much a creep as he looks, but Spiriel is having none of that poo poo. Unlike in Fire Emblem where the one good-looking female antagonist would be nicer than the rest and probably change sides, Spiriel is Queen rear end in a top hat.



: Prince Arrawnt! I didn't know you were...



: How can you speak that way about your dear little brother, Mageron?

: I thought your troops were already departed, Spiriel.

: We have a small problem in the form of a force from the Republic, Prince Mageron.

: Hmm, yes indeed. I see. Spiriel, you'd prefer to crush the Republic over searching for my father, eh? I suppose that is acceptable. I assume they will not delay you for very long.

: Prince Arrawnt, I too wish to leave some of my soldiers here.

: What? How dare you, Crewart! Are you implying that you don't trust me?

: N-No! You misunderstand me, Spiriel! If you dispatch your men to the north, I shall send mine west, just in case they surprise us.

: Very well, I understand. I shall leave that to you.



Welp. You have fun with that, Varlant.

: All right then. Brother, Spiriel, I'll go ahead and depart first.

: Spiriel, I shall leave as well. No matter what happens, don't let your guard down.

: Here we are, General Varlant. We are on even turf now. Now we shall both get our wish.



: While General Varlant is fighting, let us rescue Emperor Domaric.

: Crewart's soldiers must be heading this way as we speak. We must find the Emperor before they get here.

So we just had a grand old meeting with a bunch of the Imperial higher ups. Spiriel is a supreme badass who has to deal with assholes hitting on her, Crewart is an easily cowed creep, Arrawnt is cocky as hell, and Mageron is kind of old and doesn't really do anything.

I'm not sure if it's been mentioned in-game yet, but Arrawnt and Mageron are half-brothers to Medion, who was born to a commoner mother. Does this sound familiar yet?

Since the game is about to go all on us again, I'll end the update with non-plot stuff.



Shops always have four options. Buy is at the top, Sell on the left, Repair on the right, and Deals at the bottom. The first two are obvious enough. Repair is for when items get cracked – items with abilities that can be used in combat have a chance to crack, and if you use them when they're cracked, they break entirely. Repair will restore them to normal status for a bit of a fee. Deals allows you to buy randomly generated unique equipment, along with repurchasing any rare items that you sell or drop.



Right now, the item shop only sells Medical Herbs (restores 10 HP), Antidotes (cures poison and paralysis), and Angel Wings (immediately escapes from battle). None of this stuff is interesting, though it's worth keeping an antidote around plus a few medical herbs so Grace can keep healing when she runs out of MP.




This can also happen at random every time you talk to a shopkeep. I have no idea how it determines what item is offered, but if you decline, it goes to the deals section anyway. All a potion does is restore a character to full HP, which can be done in a single cast of Heal anyway. This'll just be left in Deals, since it'll only clutter up my inventory at this point.






As you can see, there's multiple types of weapons for every class. Right now, we could “upgrade' Synbios to a rapier and Hayward to a quarrel, but I'm going to hold off from that. I'll explain my reasons for this later, as this update has had a lot of mechanics talk in it already. Finally, let's head into headquarters, which is an identical building we can find in every town.



Here, we can see the members of the Shining Force hanging out, and they'll all have little things to say depending on where we are in the plot.








Additionally, Benetram is acting as our advisor, which gives us this menu:



Here we have Advice at the top, Give on the left, Take on the Right, and Transfer on the bottom. Advice doesn't actually give us any advice, and really serves to remind us of the plot in case we forgot. Give and Take are our item storage functions, and Transfer allows us to manage who's in our active battle party once we hit our maximum capacity of twelve.



Thanks, because we were totally going to forget with all these search parties on our asses!

NEXT TIME: Faceless NPCs still get names that we're going to forget!

inthesto fucked around with this message at May 9, 2013 around 20:48

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Bloodly posted:

It's 100 EXP for a level at all times. Your perception is flawed as hell. You are getting a quarter of a level off them.

Compared to previous Shining Force games where you typically get 48 or 49 experience from killing a new enemy, yes getting 25 - 30 is pretty low.


geri_khan posted:

I'm conflicted. On one hand those scenes about Garosh were pretty sad, on the other I'd never seen them before, so I'm kinda glad I voted for him to die. Guess I'm just kinda an rear end in a top hat?

Never noticed that similarity to FFT before! But then I never found anyone except Spiriel in that scene very memorable. Probably because none of them show up again in the whole of Scenario 1. The perils of doing a trilogy of episodic games...

The scenes you get for Garosh dying are pretty well done. They sure as hell beat the "dramatic" scenes you get in scenario 2 for rescuing him.

And the plots of Shining Force 3 and Final Fantasy Tactics share a bizarre number of parallels. If they didn't come out at roughly the same time, I'd be more suspicious.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Ardeem posted:

Are you going to show off bothering the storekeepers until they put things in the deals section?

gently caress me sideways, I even have a screenshot of this and meant to put it in the last update. I'll edit it in shortly.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 5: Leave your religion at the doorstep

When we enter Balsamo, a monk will pass in front of us.



Dantares does not take kindly to hubris.

: Well, that will happen, Dantares. Many of them are here in Balsamo, praying for the conference's success.

: Or so they say.

: They've caused us so much trouble and they're praying for peace?

: Go, Synbios. I'm relying on you. Find Domaric before they escape from here.

Luckily, Balsamo is a small town and there's not too many places to wander in order to get the plot moving. But first, we need ton consult GameFAQs to fill in some info I didn't have last time.



As I pointed out last time, if you bug certain shopkeepers enough, they'll randomly offer you special items. Apparently what items they offer are set depending on the specific merchant in specific towns. Only the item merchant in Balsamo will give you deals, and the two items she will offer are a Potion and a Goddess Tear. Now here's the fun part:



If we decline to buy the special item, the item will stay in the Deals section of every shop permanently. Thus, it's worth turning on the frameskip and doing this with every merchant who will cough up items, assuming it's an item we'll need later. Goddess Tears are invaluable items, being the only MP restoration consumable. While we don't need it now, I get it to spawn in the Deals section so I can go and buy it when we'll want it later in the game.



Uh, maybe we have a problem with the fact that you blew up a bunch of poo poo, abducted a monarch, and are constantly trying to murder us. Maybe.

: In this country, Emperor Domaric has guaranteed us the freedom of religion. You can't force us to leave!

Yeah, don't expect the whole first amendment thing to ever crop up again.



Republican lands were once Imperial lands, and Domaric wants them back!

A bit of history and a bit of foreshadowing. Apparently Domaric is a proud guy and still holds a grudge over the secessionists, even two decades later.



And here's our hint on the entirely new bonus dungeon feature in Shining Force 3. More on that when we get to it in the near future.




Balsamo also has an Imperial headquarters in addition to the Republican one. As usual, Imperial soldiers have no spine. Also, that blue one (who would be shivering if I could expend the effort to make a gif of it) might be the first confirmed lesbian in Shining Force history.




Picking up the relevant items hanging around town. Bright Honey, for those of you unfamiliar with Shining Force legacy, will increase maximum MP by 2 – 4. Like any other RPG player, I will be hoarding all stat boosting items until the very end.







The interior of the church contains a little bit more religion talk. Also, if you talk to the priest behind the counter, they'll always have something to say, though it's not always interesting. The fact that nobody actually knows who or what Bulzome is is pretty indicative of the fact that nobody cares about history.



And we finally get to our first priest of the game. There was one in Saraband, but you probably won't need to use him, so I skipped it. The options are Revive on the top, Cure on the left, Promote on the right, and Save on bottom. These should be pretty self-explanatory: Revive will bring characters back from the dead if they die in battle, though we have to pay for it. Cure will remove status effects if we don't do it in battle and also remove curses if we're stupid enough to equip a cursed item. Promote will change classes, though that won't be relevant until halfway through the game, so more on that later.



Save will save the game. Duh.



If we head to the inn on the northern end of town, there's a ton of monks hanging around.




They also can't seem to agree on anything. But to get the plot moving, we're going to need to hit up the second floor anyway.



I don't remember what happens if we say no, but this is likely a false choice anyway.

: Then enter the middle room. Be honored our high priests wish to meet with you, and don't be rude! All other rooms are off limits! You must only enter the middle room. Don't go anywhere else, got that?



Of course, we can enter the other rooms at our leisure anyway. On entering this room, we're greeting by a weird sound and we can't really do anything about it yet.



Why is he guarding a dead end?



We still pick this up in another room we're not supposed to enter. This will boost its recipient's attack by 2 – 4 points, which I will naturally never use.



The middle room contains a colorful cast of characters.


: Welcome us? Strange, we got the sense that our presence was irritating you.




: Please pardon us, visitors from Aspinia. Let me introduce myself. I am Basanda, one of the four high priests of Bulzome.



: I hope you weren't mistreated by the other Bulzome monks, King Benetram?

You mean other than the part where they've been trying to murder us in cold blood? Yeah, no problems.

: Thank you for your kindness, High Priest Goriate. The Bulzome Sect has been very considerate.

: We heard that the peace conference ended in chaos due to the kidnapping. I don't know what to think or say.

: We've had no luck finding Emperor Domaric. We must find him. and waste no time in doing so.

: What are your reasons in deciding to come to the lodge of Bulzome?

: We entrusted something to you. We would like to have it back now. That's why we're here, High Priest Fiale.

I don't know if this is a bad translation or a bad script, but boy was that a terrible choice of words from Benetram.

: Entrusted to us?

: Tour reason is intriguing. What do we of Bulzome have that belongs to King Benetram?

: Don't pretend you don't know! The truth is, the conference's failure was plotted by the Bulzome Sect!

: A plot, us? That is a bold statement, but we have no idea what you're talking about

: Enough playing dumb! You know what you've done!

: We have no memory of anything lent to us by the Republic. Sorry, but you must forego your quest.

At this point, Dantares loses his patient and tries to run up to the monk in the chair in the middle of the room that everyone's been ignoring until now.



: Oh, nothing... he looked a bit uncomfortable, so I thought I'd help him by taking off his mask for him.

: That's none of your business.

: Hmm. Outside of you four, it would seem that all the other monks wear masks like that. Is there any meaning behind it?

: There isn't a "deep meaning" in wearing the mask, King Benetram. Once one becomes a High Priest, many things are allowed, but until them we seek to serve by suppressing our individuality. And thus, the mask is a symbol of this.

Naturally, the Bulzome sect is nothing but hypocrites at the top. Organized religion!

: So as long as they wear the mask, the high priests determine even the fate of their lives, like gods?

: Fiale, we've spoken for too long. Now would be a good time to ask them to leave.

: It is my mistake, King Benetram. If I knew it'd be like this, I would have brought the rest of our people.

Actually, wouldn't that be the call of the commanding officer? Just more evidence that it's Dantares who's in charge, not Synbios.

: Then we'll regroup and come back in full force.



At this point the monk shakes his mask off, revealing a familiar face that surprises no one.




Basanda then proceeds to cast a magic spell which teleports us all outside the room.



: Just take a look around. It would not be wise to start a fight. Every Bulzome monk will attack us simultaneously if we provoke them. It would be better for us to leave now.

Give me a break, Dantares could run all these chumps down by himself.



Not that we really have a choice in the matter.



: Let's hurry back to headquarters. We'll come back with everyone!

: By “everyone”, do you mean us?

; Masqurin wouldn't stop making a fuss, so we came out here.

: All right, now it's time to fight. We will rescue Emperor Domaric!

: Synbios, you will be the leader. Everyone, follow Synbios' lead!

NEXT TIME: Hope you weren't itching for a bar brawl

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Ardeem posted:

Dantares can only hit so many people per turn.

To be fair, this early on, Masqurin is probably better than Dantares.

Also, quick update: I just found out that I messed up taking screenshots and overwrote my save file, so I'm going to have to restart the game to catch the stuff. Good thing I screwed up this early in the game, but it's still going to delay the next update by a few days.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Short update: LP's still not dead, but as I was replaying the game to catch the stuff I forgot to cap, Irfanview overwrote all my old screenshots. As a result, I have to start the game over again and replay battle #4. I promise there will be a real update in the next day or two!

In the mean time, let's just check out some of the minor changes we get if we rescue Garosh:




Not nearly as heartfelt as the scene where he's dead.




This game likes to put in spinny text once in a while for some reason.




Well, fat lot of good saving him did us.




Thankfully, we have a 50% chance of answering this question right, and we get infinite attempts at it.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 6: Named NPCs get biographies too

When we last left off, we gathered the rest of our army and charged back into the inn to ruin some Bulzome poo poo and put an end to this game.



Or everyone's gone.



: Synbios, let's go up to the second floor and inspect the rooms of those High Priests.



: The Bulzome Sect tricked us. They took advantage of our situation, and decided to set us up.

: Situation... took advantage?? Set us up... I'm afraid I don't understand.

Dantares did not achieve his rank through his brains.

: They knew the Empire is after us, and that we wouldn't risk our lives to fight them to save Emperor Domaric.

: Of course. If we challenged them, we'd barely survive their onslaught, with no chance of saving the Emperor.

: Instead, we retreated, giving them the time to escape. We did exactly what they wanted us to do.

: But what was their objective?

: In order to move the Emperor, the Empire's attention had to be diverted. We would have been their decoy.



No, the four goons don't actually show up. They have the power of telepathy or something.

: No use searching for us. Our main forces are already on the move. We have no reason to stay here!

: You would chase after us? Give it up. Soon, the Imperial army will arrive. All of you are trapped like rats!

Actually, if we could crawl through a rat hole, we could get the attention of the guy in charge and get him to change us back to normal size. Wait poo poo, wrong game again.

: Tell me just one thing! Who was impersonating me and for what purpose?

The brilliant Benetram can't even figure out things that he's already announced.

: It was I, Fiale. It was part of our plot to ruin the peace conference between the Republic and the Empire!

Fun fact: When we stomp him into the dirt, Fiale will have the same stats that we saw on the impostor. Nice attention to detail, and it tells us we won't be fighting Fiale for a while.

: As we take the Emperor overseas, put up a good fight, my little decoys! If you live, I'm sure we'll meet again.

: What are we to do, King Benetram? If the priests' words are true, our lives are in grave danger.

: There's no reason for them to like now, but we are not out of options. There has to be more that we can do. We can't make a strategy until we know what's going on outside the castle. Let's get to higher ground. Don't worry Synbios and Dantares. Balsamo is enclosed by a high wall. There must be a secret path somewhere.

Yes, secret paths. Let's go find one.



Like so!




Hey more weird sounds. What could it be?



A secret character!



Oh wait, he's imperial.

: Why did you decide to rescue me now? You were the ones who captured me because I knew of the conspiracy between Bulzome and Benetram, weren't you? Does Benetram's plan scare you? Is that why you've decided to let me go? From what I saw, you used the peace conference as your chance to take the Emperor. I can't condone such an act! I would thank you for helping me, but next time we meet, we will be enemies. The Republican army will be destroyed!

And with that, he storms off. We need to trigger this event in order to recruit Bernard in scenario 2 – something useless for people who actually played the game on a non-Japanese Saturn. In the end, it's all fine, since Bernard isn't as good as Hayward anyway.



And we pick up Bernard's secret stash before leaving. Again, not an item we'll need right away, but it'll be useful later on.



If we try to walk out the front, we find out that the Crewart army has caught up to us and is now walling us in. Thankfully, nobody recognizes Synbios or Dantares by sight.



Poking around the buildings, there's also a Republican HQ. The sight is not very pretty.



If we wander into another house, this old guy rambles on about some character named Toby. There's also two other guys named Duncan and Shiraf but the game doesn't do a great job of explaining it and two of the three characters don't get portraits, so I can never keep any of it straight. None of it gets fully explained until scenario 2, which we probably won't see for at least a year now, so I'm just going to assume it's all unimportant.



Upstairs in the same house, we find a dwarf staring off into the horizon.

: There, another one just got killed. The Spiriel army is as powerful as they're said to be, King Benetram.

Obright's got same drat good eyes.

: So we've finally found you. You're Obright from the Produn army! Why are you here?

: As my senses cleared, Toby told me of the town's closure and your plight. I rushed here hoping to spot you.

: How did you know to look here, exactly?

: I knew once you heard of the closure, you'd try to assess the situation. No better place to do that than here.

: So you've decided to help us take the escape route leading to Dwarf's Hill? I commend your decision, Obright.

: I wasn't aware of a secret pathway to Dwarf's Hill. You're called the wisest general for a reason, King Benetram.



Something tells me that Dantares not being a bright bulb is going to be a running theme here.

: I've been separated from the Produn army, but I'm still loyal to the Republic. Please allow me to join your forces. Let's go to Duncan's house now. Toby should be there already.

And just like that, we've recruited our token dwarf.

Now we hike on over to Duncan/Toby/???'s house.



: I did a whole lot of thinking, Toby. I can't go there all alone. That's why I spoke to these people.




Okay, so Toby is a little kid, Duncan is a former bandit, and both of them are obscured by a text box. There's also Shiraf who was trained by Duncan and is now a giant rear end in a top hat. We're going to promptly forget all this because none of it matters.

: Listen carefully Toby. They're being hunted by the Empire. If they don't escape, they're dead. The secret tunnel I have been digging for years, opens at the well ahead. No one in Balsamo knows about it. I, however, owe a lot to Obright, and you don't look like bad people. You know, I'm glad the pathway I built for fun is being used to save lives, especially if it saves the King's life.

Funny, this is imperial territory, thus Duncan is an imperial citizen. I guess it makes sense that he wants to stick it to the man, being a former bandit and all.

: Duncan, thank you for your help. I'll find out whose behind this war and I promise to return your favor.

: Please proceed carefully. I hope you remain safe. Elbesem's speed to you.



Before we scoot, we need to pick this up. It'll be relevant in the battle after the next.



And then we jump out Duncan's backdoor and check out the well. Really, the only well in town has a secret passage that nobody knows about?



Wait, wasn't this Dwarf Hill a second ago?

: A savage land few dare to enter. There is no telling what danger awaits. Be careful, Synbios.






Since I overwrote some saves like a dumbass, I've had to replay through this game twice just to redo this battle. I've decided to keep the new save because Synbios got some really ridiculous levels (don't worry, he's still wearing the battle bracer, so his base attack is still lower than Dantares'), but more importantly I scored this support along the way:



While Grace's support of raising magic defense is useless this early, Masqurin's ability to pump up magic power is awesome. While it's far better when paired with another mage, it will bring a welcome boost to Grace's healing power.






This map is another straight corridor down, with two detours to the side. Since it is a valley, each side has an archer with the high ground on us. I don't think high ground actually does anything, but it does mean that only Hayward and Masqurin can fire back from below. The strategy for this fight is simple: Send a few characters to the east rise to clean out the one clump of enemies (including an archer), and then let Masqurin or Hayward go 1v1 with the other archer while everyone else pushes straight through.



Despite the enemy set being almost entirely new, they still don't hit our frontliners very hard.



The only old enemy to stick around is the bat, solely to piss me off with poison.



Though it's still the same enemy, the bat's poison now does 2 damage per turn to Dantares. This makes me think that poison in fact scales off max HP.





Ah, it's good to have weapon advantage back.



Having forced ranged combat works both ways. While the enemy sniper is too busy leashing onto Dantares with Grace behind his back, Hayward can deal free damage to this worm up here.

More interesting to note is the formation I've set up top with Obright and Dantares. While forming a wall like that is very effective at forcing the AI to bash its skull against characters it will never realistically kill, it's also suboptimal because it forces a bunch of 1v1s, meaning I won't be able to build support levels. Now, Shining Force 3 is an easy enough game that supports are just garnish to finish the game faster, but it's something to keep in mind.



With 18 HP, worms are a little bit beefy. Thankfully, they're slow monsters with MOV 4, so it's hard to get swarmed by them.



Grace also picked this up at level 4, but since enemies frequently drop antidotes, we won't be using the spell too often.



Here's the gimmick for this battle: The scaven and worm on the east bank and the worm on the west bank will respawn after they're killed. While enemies do give low amounts of experience, you can use this for support grinding if you really want to. Naturally, we have better things to do than that.




Even worms can stand up to Dantares. Early on, Shining Force 3 is just a low impact game in general. That will change soon enough.




Masqurin is still squishy. The way this map is laid out, though, there's not too many chances for her to get killed.



On the other hand, worms apparently have a weakness to fire. This will mark them as the first physical-resistant, magic-vulnerable enemy in the game.



And Masqurin gets this little gem as a result of her level up.




Might as well show it off since this fight isn't too difficult or interesting either way.




Keep in mind that's an area effect too.



And for some reason, Masqurin gets weapon advantage over worms. I really couldn't tell you why.



Southern end of the west bank contains this goody. It's an accessory that grants +2 DEF. I'm probably going to toss it onto Masqurin so I don't have to do so much worrying about her getting instagibbed.





Towards the end, all that's left is a bat and a scaven at the front, and the respawning enemies at the back. Since it takes too long to walk around the banks and into the valley, it's easy enough to just waste the last two enemies blocking my way and proceed forward.



But before we go, Dantares picks up this! More on it in the next update, but suffice to say for now that it's going to provide him a boost to attack and a new animation when he lands a critical.



Since the map has infinitely respawning enemies, the way to end it is to move Synbios to the end and use the Map Move command. We're also going to be seeing more of this in the next battle.



: General Crewart's soldiers must be quite irritated by now.

: Still, this is imperial territory, and we're such a small force. The time we gained is very precious. They say treasure is hidden in Dwarf Hill just ahead. Beyond that is the town of Railhead. Hurry, General Produn awaits!

NEXT TIME: Bonus dungeons!

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 7: This one's easy




: Who could predict this outcome? But the chief knew this was gonna happen. He must have contacts everywhere. With the internal security forces busy with the Republican armies, we're free to steal like there's no tomorrow. Still, even though we are part of the Shiraf clan, we're stuck on this stupid watch. I wish we could join a more active unit.



: King Benetram, sitting here is just a waste of precious time.

: Once we meet with General Produn, I must think through all this again. Let us move out. Split them right down the middle.

So we hear Shiraf's name again without a whole lot of clue as to who he is, other than a bandit leader. Surely this will become relevant sooner or later, but for now, Dantares has some killing to do.





Two new enemies, the latter of which is a one-time boss. Dark mages are a bit dangerous. Freeze 1 puts out a lot of damage right now and Tornado 2 does multi-target damage without any multi-target healing as an answer, so it's best to kill them as quickly as possible.



However, this is the real point of interest for this fight. This is our first bonus dungeon, which is only accessible if we picked up the ruins map in Balsamo. It won't trigger until we wander too close to it. Finally, let's take a look at weapon levels:



Notice the left column, where it says “Weapon Level” and “Specials”. Last fight, when Dantares gained Lance Charge at the end of the fight, that means he gained a level in lances. This means he will get a flat attack bonus whenever he has a lance equipped and all of his critical hits will be replaced by a special attack. Special attacks always do more damage and many of them add status effects. Specials are specific to the weapon type, so if Dantares were to get a level in spears, he'd have a completely different special to select from. For an extra layer of fun, the same weapon type equipped to different classes will get you different specials!

As the weapon level goes up, characters gain more specials and the bonus to attack goes up. Each weapon level has a special associated with it, though certain weapons will also grant specials. The way the weapon level attack bonus works is a tiny bit complicated, so I'll just link this page instead.



The fight starts off with a sniper and a worm right next to each other, so let's see what area effect magic can do, terrible camera allowing.



Blaze 2 will hit in a cross shape, but you need to have a target at the center. One nice thing is that it costs 5 MP now, compared to 6 MP in Shining Force 2. A 1 MP difference doesn't sound like much, but hey, it's half of a Blaze 1.




Oh yeah, and Shining Force 3 has magic scaling now. I don't know exactly how it works, but the gist of it is that each character has base affinities for each element, which are then modified by the weapon level of the weapon they're using. How that interacts with base damage, I don't actually know, but hey – scaling mages means Masqurin Is going to stay relevant whether or not she's waiting on her next spell level.




As advertised, the Dark Mages back Tornado 2, which also has an area effect. It hits fairly hard at this point in the game. However, as far as I know, enemy casters tend not to have any base affinities, so their damage output is much lower than our mages.



It's best to take care of these guys as quickly as possible before they can use up all their MP bypassing our defenses.



And pick up this on the way.





As we cut through these enemies who don't pose any threat because Masqurin and Dantares crap damage, we take a looksee at this not-so-supicious pyramid.




Usually just standing close enough to it will trigger the next part, but this time Obright's going to walk right on up and inspect.



An unsavory looking fellow will pop out and yell at us, claiming that the treasure's his. I missed the screencap, but the dialogue's not that interesting and we'll see him soon enough.




Now here's where things can get a little interesting. With the bonus dungeon opened up, there's now a separate map, which characters have to enter individually. The bonus map always takes its turn after the main map has finished up. However...



The turn that a character performs a map move from the main onto the bonus map, they don't get a turn on the bonus map. The thief will always show up and enter the turn you inspect the ruins. The upshot of this is that typically want your highest agility character to trigger the ruins, and then have the other characters subsequently go in, so their turns are on par with thief.

Unfortunately, Dantares and Masqurin – the two characters that absolutely must do this map - are our two fastest characters, so there's not much to be done about it. Obright is one of the slowest, so Dantares and Masqurin end up entering at the start of the next turn, giving the thief a head start. Luckily, the first bonus map is extremely easy, so nothing's really lost.



The way bonus maps work is that there's a bunch of chests and an exit. Most of the chests are locked, and thus only the thieves can open them. You have to allow the thieves, who mostly follow pre-programmed paths, to grab the loot, and then attack them to force them to drop it so you pick it up instead. If you're too aggressive and kill all the thieves, then you can't unlock the chests and the ruins collapse. On the other hand, if you too slow and let the thieves escape, then the ruins will also collapse and you don't get any loot.

More or less, you will always have to send in your highest movement characters (aka Dantares and his future centaur cohort) to chase the thieves around and hopefully not completely murder them.



Because thieves, while packing a decent amount of HP, aren't particularly strong and always have swords. Since most of our 7 MOV characters will be using lance-types, there's a fair chance that they'll get killed accidentally. vv



All that said, this first map is extremely simple. We've already seen the thief unlock that chest with the life ring in the back, and there's only one other chest off to the right like so:



Masqurin can pop open this one to grab a measly Healing Drop, since it's one of the few without a lock on it, and meanwhile Dantares can chase down the thief. Since Dantares has 7 MOV to the thief's 6, it won't be much of a problem.



Also, Synbios is never allowed to enter bonus dungeons. My guess is that somebody at Camelot was too lazy to deal with programming how to work with Return in a bonus map.



And while Masqurin and Dantares are running circles inside the ruins, everyone else is waiting for the last of the enemies to make their way over.



The thieves will always run towards the exit when they're done pilfering, but they'll never have an advantage over Dantares.



Crime never goes unpunished.



The fact that we get monetary gain out of it is completely incidental.



When the thieves either escape or die, things blow up and everyone evacuates.



Which just leaves this. Remember, one of those is a normal sniper while the other is a boss.




Because I didn't. If I didn't throw the Protect Bracer onto Masqurin, that would have been lethal.




Smack down the guy who can hit more than one person at a time, first.



And then we can just let Masqurin do her thing. Blaze 2 has put her damage output over Dantares' for the time being.





And then, all that's left is to smash the boss.



And Hayward knows how to finish with style with our first special attack!




No special effects, but it looks kind of cool.



Not even a third of a level for a chapter boss? But hey, we picked up all this one the way:





Remember, weapon levels means magic power scaling up too!



: I heard the Synbios force disappeared, but didn't expect... show up here.

: You know the peace conference would fail. How did you know?

In my head, Dantares is using his anthro-equine strength to deadlift this guy and shake the answers out of him like a pinata full of fortune cookies.

:Wouldn't you like to know? Shiraf and.. planned... eliminate... the emperor... Ugh!




Next time Dantares, you break his legs, not his skull.

: Many lives were lost for nothing. If we don't act, more will perish. We must prevent that from happening.

FACT CHECK: We're responsible for most of the murdering that's happened on screen.






Just the excuse the Empire needed to justify an invasion of the Holy Land, bringing both countries to the brink of full-scale war. A peace conference was called in an attempt to avert the coming war, but the abduction of the Emperor by Bulzome fanatics raised tensions on both sides. Both sides left the peace conference planning for war. Synbios managed to escape Balsamo, and is heading to the town of Railhead where General Produn awaits. However, many unexpected events lie in his and his party's path.



And that concludes the first chapter! To recap the more mysterious parts of the plot: There's a gang of thieves operating in the region, lead by Shiraf, and they're somehow in on Domaric's abduction. This implies that they're working with the Bulzome sect, but the full story won't be illustrated for a while.

Come back for chapter 2, where I'm sure we'll meet this Produn guy, who we totally won't forget about for the rest of the disc while we're shoved into one of the most frustrating fights in Shining Force history!

NEXT TIME: It's the fight after this one, you jerks.

inthesto fucked around with this message at Jun 8, 2013 around 02:26

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


You're right, I completely blanked on the Chapter 2 Battle 2. Switching Point is just such a black cloud on the entire chapter, it's hard to remember anything else.

And yes, the hostage fight in Scenario 2 is far worse. It's so frustrating, it makes me wonder if Thracia 776's team took some lessons from it.

ChrisAsmadi posted:

What was in the second dungeon chest, the one that Masquirin went after?

Durr, it was a Healing Drop. It's just so inconsequential, I forgot to actually mention it. I'll edit it in now.

inthesto fucked around with this message at Jun 8, 2013 around 02:27

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 8: Foreshadowing that will almost never come to a head!



A new chapter, a new design team to thoroughly piss me off.




Welcome to Railhead, another town under the governorship of Garvin, and also populated by people who are overly concerned with material wealth.





The scene starts with Grace talking to some official looking guy, and hoofing it back to headquarters.



: I was trying to confirm the arrival time of the train at the station, but it came while I was there...




Everyone is just fascinated by steam technology. Grace probably forgot what she was doing when she saw the iron beast.

: I see. Did you see the locomotive?

: Darn! That's why I told you, Grace! I wanted to go with you too!

: That huge thing actually moves. I saw it with my own eyes, but I still cannot believe it.

: Since we can't find Produn's army, we must find our own way to the Republic. Maybe the train...

: Speaking of the Produn army, do we know where they are now?

: They were ambushed by Imperial General Garzel's army. Right now they are still in battle, so they can't help us.

: General Garzel is a good leader. Even General Produn must be having trouble facing him on the battlefield.

: The strategy of the Empire has been remarkable! It seems like they know where we're heading next.

Why yes, it's almost as if there's a mole somewhere. How else could Garzel possibly know about all our moves?

: It seems we have some time before the departure time. It might be a good idea to learn about locomotives. Why don't you go take a look, Synbios?

: Oh, you too, Lord Synbios? Only you and Grace get to see the train!?

: All right then, you can go too.

Yes, Masqurin acting like a child is going to be a running theme through the game. Being an elf, she's also much older than everyone else.

Since we're in HQ, let's gab a bit first.








But what? No, this thought never gets finished.



Right outside the door is out welcoming committee. If we answer yes:



On the other hand, an answer of no gets us:



Let's keep going around as see what the town of Railhead is like!


: But thanks to the prosperity, I can come here while skipping out on my job at the station.


: However, the savings never reach the commoners, but only allow the rich to prosper further. Is this the future?



: The Empire has fertile soil, but with the high taxes, it's not much different.



So yeah, people only care about money and nobody gives a poo poo about the war. To the people in the middle, both nations are completely the same to them. Let's check around the bar for some more chat that's more directly related to the plot.






There's that Shiraf guy again! If this guy is a bandit, and he's talking about the cargo hold when no soldiers are around, that can only mean...



This guy kicking back the beers seems to have a unique sprite.



Oh, you look a little familiar. If we answer no, he'll explain the Vandals to us like so.

: They ruled the land about a thousand years ago. Think of them as the supreme supernatural evil entities. A country to the west called Enrich was almost destroyed because of them. Ten years have passed since then.

If we answer no, we get a new prompt:



Answer no, and he'll explain again.

: The Vandals created a kingdom one thousand years ago. Until it suddenly vanished, they govered over humankind with terror and despair. Light blazing from the sky was supposedly the cause of the kingdom's fall. The Vandals then went into hibernation.

If we say yes to that one, the question tree ends with Julian becoming impressed about Republican education.

: I'm impressed. I don't know how you learned it, but the people of Aspinia seem well educated. It's been one thousand years since the Vandals vanished from the face of the Earth. More signs of the Vandal revival are appearing.

None of this matters until scenario 3, but hey, a familiar face we'll get to recruit soon enough.


: How did Garvin, the old governor of Quonus, acquire the steam engine? No one really knows the truth.


: Rumor has it that he exchanged a whole town to a demon for the steam engine technology.

If you guessed that Garvin traded away all of Quonus for a big rear end train, you'd be correct! It's not outright stated anywhere, but this will come together cleanly in the next chapter, and sets up a lot of plot for scenario 2.


Sarabade, aside from transporting food and goods, is also involved in smuggling weapons. I'm sure some of the boxes held weapons.

Garvin is also a war profiteering scumbag. We're not going to feel bad about eventually killing him.



Time to head into this big, important looking building where Grace didn't accomplish anything.


: There is no need to be shy. Please feel free to enter at any time.

Dude doesn't even check our ticket. Homeland Security wouldn't be pleased. Either way, it's not like there's much to see in the railroad station.



Except for fart jokes. Tee hee.



Let's get out of here, since there's nothing to really do.




Ah, poo poo.




: We have received orders to guard Railhead from the potential vicious attacks of the Republican army. That is why we assumed our position here, to protect the station building.

: I understand why you're here, but Railhead is under Saraband rule. You can't take actions on your own accord.

High society customers are aboard the train. This really is not a place for Border Guards like yourselves. Oh, if the Governor General Garvin hears about this! Please get out of here as quickly as you can!

It's not incredibly obvious, but the one doing the double freakout is the guy in the blue suit, whereas the just plain angry guy is the station captain in the white.
: We have direct orders from Prince Arrawnt, himself! Are you questioning his authority?

Captain... did you just say Prince Arrawnt? You, by whose order do you not allow the Border Guard Captain access? Answer me!!!

It was probably your orders, but this guy is the douchebag boss who lays blame to all of his subordinates.

Me...? What...? Station Chief... Are you... I... Me...? Did I... I didn't... do anything...

I promise to have him punished severely. Please guard the station building for us. Excuse me...

How could the Station Chief... punish me... That's so cruel... I should've stayed home today.






Strangely, the town layout is going to stay completely the same, but we won't be able to get back inside the station. Good thing I collected all the goodies before triggering this scene!






Before we consult Benetram, let's get some mechanics chat in here.



For some reason, the majority of weapons for magic users will be showing up in the deals section. I'm going to pick up that power ankh for Grace, since she actually starts at weapon level 1 with them.




Shining Force 3 is nice and gives you the option to immediately equip new weapons and sell old ones. Quality of life in old RPGs is a nice thing.



Now then, remember how the rapier gave Synbios a small boost to attack back in Balsamo?



Not anymore! Thanks to having rank 1 in swords, Synbios will lose that attack bonus if he switches to rapiers or blades. Because of this, it's generally good to stick a character with a single weapon type. This hamstrings the old Shining Force strategy of keeping knights with a spear and a lance, but having awesome criticals outweighs it. I'm going to keep everyone on their initial weapon type, just because I can (and because it fits thematically with Synbios).



Meanwhile, this is one of our merchant bonuses in this shop. It gives +12 critical to whoever equips it, and it's only available to male characters. For the curious, the other random merchant bonus item is a potion. I trigger it, but hold off from buying.



Let's just ignore everything this screenshot implies, okay?



And while I'm micromanaging equipment, let's get this bauble we picked up last fight onto Masqurin. More defense for the squishy mage is good, and the HP regen will make healing her less important. The protect bracer she was wearing goes on Obright. With all the accessories I'm slinging around this early, the team is looking much more powerful than it normally would.

Anyways, back to the plot.



: The Imperial Border Guards appeared at the train station and they're getting ready to catch King Benetram.

: Border guards in the station? We won't be able to get on the train so easily now.

: Blast! Now we will have to abort our plan to get back to the Republic by train.

But I thought Republicans didn't approve of abortion.

: I just remembered something. I heard something very imteresting while I was in town. A railroad worker said sometimes he sees people hiding with the cargo. We could give that a try.

: That's a very good idea, Grace. If we do that, then we won't be found by the Border Guards.

: Hmm, sneaking inside the cargo?

: This seems to be our only option.

: It's not perfect, but considering our situation, it might be worth a try. Let's go to the cargo hold.

: Lead the way, Lord Synbios. We'll be right behind you.



And lead the way Synbios will.



But not before a quick detour.

NEXT TIME: Rescue missions are still annoying!

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


I find that the attack boost from investing in a single weapon is more important than versatility, especially since hybrid weapons (knives, spears, tomahawks) kind of suck anyway.

This might end up biting me in the rear end in scenario 3, but we'll find out!

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Nephrite posted:

I only used spears for the ruins anyway!

This is actually pretty clever, and I'm probably going to copy this idea for the LP.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 9: More AI bullshit














I missed the screencap, but Irene punches the gently caress out of this guy.


If she's going to be trouble, since she's seen us and the crime scene, finish her off!







And welcome to our first rescue mission. It's going to be far from our last.






A few new enemies that are a bit punchier than the last bunch, but overall easier. Birdmen fly and wield swords, so they're easy prey for both Dantares and Hayward. Goblins are the new big boys, but maces are axes in the weapon triangle, meaning Synbios will finally have weapon advantage.




While Irene looks like she starts out close to us, we can't climb that giant stack of crates. The team will have to take a detour to the east and meet her at the north-east end of the map. While Irene does walk towards us, her AI is programmed to never heal herself, so we have a time limit of three or four turns to get her. Luckily, the enemy AI is just as weird, and no one enemy will be dedicated to hitting her every round.



Irene could die in three turns if the AI so willed, but it doesn't.




The first turn is spent moving. On the second turn, Masqurin dives headfirst into that sniper, who's never gonna get to move. With +4 DEF, I'm not too afraid of Masqurin getting hit once or twice.







It's good to have weapon advantage back.





Really good.



Meanwhile, Irene keeps trying to hike down towards us while stubbornly refusing to do anything about the damage she's eating.




And this is what happens if you don't send Dantares at full movement every turn to fetch her. This was really bad, because two turns in a row, I thought to myself “Oh right, I need to get Dantares over there” without actually doing it.



Irene's dying message. Luckily, Synbios can revive her.



Not directly, though. If you happen to fail any bonus objectives, you can simply Egress (actually called Return, but the fan translation patch reverted the name to the older version). This will take you to the last priest you saved at, and walk back to the battle, resetting all the fight conditions from the start. The exceptions are the bonus dungeons, such as the one we saw in the last fight. If you egress after a bonus dungeon has been started, then the game will count it as destroyed when you return. Make sure you do the bonus dungeon right the first time!

Anyways, let's try this again.





Dammit Dantares, Hayward killed the birdman in a single critical. Start pulling your weight.



Look at that, Synbios does almost as much damage without a critical! For shame.



For reference, if you wander Synbios too close to the crates at the beginning, a birdman will jump down on him. With Hayward, he's very easy to take care of.



Oh, and what's this? Did Grace learn a new spell? Well, kind of. Let's look.



See how the weapon description says “Tornado L3” at the bottom? That means anyone who's equipping it will have Tornado in their fourth spell slot. That's right, casters never actually learn a fourth spell through leveling up; the last slot is instead determined by what item they have equipped. Now, the reason why only Tornado 1 is accessible is because the spell level must equal the weapon rank, i.e. Grace won't get Tornado 2 until she gains rank 2 in ankhs, etc. This means that mages and priests get much more flexibility in their toolboxes, and that priests get a very distinct advantage over monks, as monk weapons will never have spells attached to them.




Meanwhile, Dantares presses forward and takes a beating for it. Synbios finally gaining weapon advantage also means that Dantares will suffer from weapon disadvantage.



After a few turns, one of the birdmen will fly up to this area, where you can't touch him.



So close, yet so far Masqurin.



Almost there!



Cutting it close.



Another risky move. Irene has 9 AGI, which is tied with both the scaven and the archer, either one of whom could finish her off right now. I'm pretty sure that if you recruit a character and they die in the same battle, they still count as dead. Here, I'm hoping that Irene gets to move first so she can heal herself.




The broken speech is going to get old real fast. Thankfully, she doesn't really have any lines.





Notice how Grace and Hayward took different amounts of damage? That's not just the RNG at work. It's time for more mechanics talk!




Mostly new to Shining Force 3 is elemental resistances. Along the bottom row, they're fire, ice, lightning, wind, holy, and dark. Spellcasting classes will generally get much higher magic resists than non-casters. This is actually a cool feature, since it means mages can actually act as damage sponges against other mages, and won't instagib when they get hit by Spark 3.




Did I remember to mention that Irene is a monk? While she'll never have as much MP as Grace, she has a decent attack and gains a spell that will be invaluable later in the game. It's nice of scenario 1 to give us a secondary healer early on, a courtesy that Shining Force 2 didn't have.




I wish I had managed to cap this, but Irene's counter animation is a big roundhouse kick. Her stats may suck at the moment, but Irene is still a badass.



This is one hell of a clusterfuck, with Dantares off to the side and three enemies mobbing me in the middle.



But hey, we finally get to exercise Synbios' weapon advantage!



You're lucky Dantares didn't see that, Synbios.



At least this will clean out one guy.



And apparently ankhs get weapon advantage against these guys, just because they have “dark” in their name. I won't argue, though how effective could her attack possi-





Holy poo poo, Grace can shoot lasers out of her eyes.



With the birdman and the dark mage getting punted into another dimenion in one hit and Masqurin getting an easy cast of Blaze 2, that just about wraps up this fight. There's really only cleaning up left, and I don't mean the enemies.



Despite recruiting Irene a while ago, Dantares is gonna keep on climbing up.




So he can grab this. It's a full HP restore to everyone on the map. I'm not going to use it until the very end, naturally.




And Synbios and Obright are gonna check out this hole in the wall. This isn't a real bonus dungeon, but some battles with have two separate maps to them.



Inside the cargo is just a scaven and a dark mage, but that's experience and gold that I want.



One of the barrels on the inside map also contains a goodie.



Freeze 1 at work. Not pretty stuff, but not terrible when it's just a solo mage.


General Dantares will watch the rest of the battle from above and evaluate.




Grace has been learning well.



: Did you say Synbios? I see. No wonder you beat us, you're the remnants of the Rrepublican army. I see Benetram next to you. I bet you were planning to escape by hidingin the cargo like rats. Forget the cargo, you are worth a lot more! There is a bounty on your heads. I must inform boss Shiraf! Just you wait! I'll gather my friends from Dusty Village, and return to collect Benetram's head.

It's funny how this guy recognized Synbios' name before Benetram's looks. Also, there's that Shiraf guy again. We better meet him soon, or I'm going to be really confused.



: More importantly, take a look around.

: They destroyed everything in sight.

: Once they see the mess around the cargo, they're bound to inspect everything on this train.

: I guess we must give up the idea of smuggling ourselves among the cargo.

: Not only that, once this is discovered, the whole town will be searched from stem to stern... We must leave immediately, Synbios. We must get as far away from the town as we can, and as quickly as possible.

So that's that. No train ride for us. It probably wasn't going to live up to the hype and be nothing more than an ambush plot anyway, right?

NEXT TIME: Wait, I can have two characters with Egress?

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


I tried crawling through the boxes the first time I played this game, without realizing the turn penalties it incurs. It's really faster to lock down the main map and then clean out the secondary when that's all settled.

Also Sheela and Knuckles were both fairly crappy characters, with Gong being mediocre at best.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Bloodly posted:

That's not entirely accurate, given there are plenty of weapons with 2-level spells-you simply don't get the second level till Weapon 3.

I take it that these are the weapons with summons spells attached?

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


The Shining Force: Part 2


”Mercenary searching for a leader worthy of his loyalty. While in the Saraband Guard, he learns the truth during the events at Saraband Pier and joins the Synbios Army."
Pros: High attack, ranged attack, destroys fliers
Cons: Low defense
Support: Critical Up
Thoughts: Hayward might be the first good non-centaur archer in any Shining Force game ever. He hits like a truck, has awesome and frequent criticals, and has a nice support skill to boot. There's not much else to say about Hayward, other than celebrating the fact that he's the polar opposite of Hans in every possible way.


" A dwarf warrior who was separated from the Produn Army. He rescued Toby, the son of Balsamo's village chief from an attacking beast. Later joines the Synbios Army."
Pros: High attack and defense, good movement in mountains, good weapon type, decent support
Cons: Low agility, vulnerability to magic, incredibly boring
Support: Defense Up
Thoughts: As per usual with Shining Force dwarfs, there's not much interesting about Obright. He moves and he hits, with emphasis on the latter. Due to Shining Force 3's new mechanics, he's a bit more interesting than previous warriors, due to having a valuable support skill and wielding axes. Since lances are extremely common on enemies and axe wielding allies are fairly rare, Obright is a good character to keep around.


"Monk from the Far East. After deserting her temple, bandits discover her hiding in Railhead. The Synbios army saved her and she joined them."
Pros: Well rounded stats, early secondary healer, gains the most useful endgame spell
Cons: No particularly good stats, limited mana pool
Spells: Heal, Tornado, Resist
Support: Magic Defense Up, Counter Up
Thoughts: Out of the two monks, Irene is the less punchy one, but she's overall better. Resist is the most valuable spell at the end of the game by a mile. While none of Irene's stats will be outstanding, they're all good enough to do whatever she needs to do at any given time. A rare example of a support character designed correctly.

inthesto fucked around with this message at Jun 19, 2013 around 01:44

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


It's worth keeping in mind that in 1997, Fire Emblem was only up #4 (Genealogy of the Holy War), which was the game that introduced a lot of the modern FE mechanics. I have no idea what the strategy RPG market looked like back then, but I doubt it was so fierce as to inspire terror in Camelot.

Knowing how incestuous (no pun intended) the industry could be back then, I wouldn't be surprised if there was some overlap in talent.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 10: The calm before the storm



Just as soon as we met Railhead...



...we have to say farewell.



: We came all the way to Railhead, and miss the train because of those stupid bandits. I can't believe our luck.




: If I remember correctly, we met at the tavern in Railhead.

I like this little catch here. It's completely optional for Synbios to talk to Julian while wandering around in Railhead, but we don't have tabs on where Grace was during her excursion, so it's entirely possible that Grace met him regardless of what we did personally.

: I thought you had to get on a train at the station.

: I guess you Republicans aren't very familiar with trains.

: Wait! There must be a switching point nearby!

: Ha ha, pardon me, wise King Benetram. I spoke too soon.

It seems you are not from this country.

: Why do you say that?

: You look like a mercenary. Any local soldier would be turning us in, not helping us escape.

: King Benetram... you are not, by chance, thinking about trusting this stranger?

: I would say it's better than trusting those guys over there. Take a look for yourself.



: Well, it's up to you, King Benetram. It seems the Imperial army is here.

: I see you Benetram. You won't escape. I'll be knighted for your capture.

Sorry, you're a pair of legs too short for anything like that.

: So what do you have in mind?

: I'll guide you to the switching point. In return, I would like to travel with you.

: King Benetram, if we wait any longer, the Imperial army will get organized, and come after us.

: Yes, you are correct. Oh, I almost forgot to ask. What is your name?



Oh come on, an ellipse right after a question mark? This just makes me angry.







The new mooks aren't anything too exciting. We'll want to watch out for the mage casting Blaze 2, but there's only one of him. The miniboss is a bit intimidating, packing pretty high ATT, but as long as we don't let ourselves get mobbed by him and his flunkies, everything should be fine. Tactics are going to be a bit light in this update because the fight is just so easy and straightforward. Trust me, that'll all change for next time.



First order of business is to charge up and clean out these three guys right here.





Dantares, I thought you were better than this.



A familiar color swap, but they hurt when they have weapon advantage. Stop giving me sword users, Camelot!




Julian retaliates and quickly gets rank 1 in blades. I forgot to cap his stats, but suffice to say that he's not much different from Synbios, though slightly better all around. He also specializes in blades rather than swords, not that I know what that really means.




Once the initial three enemies are taken down, it's just the two guys to the north and everyone else to the east. If you go east, the sniper/soldier pair are actually entirely optional. I'll take care of them with a lone character while everyone else heads east, because you may have noticed something nice in that direction.



While we make our approach, half of the boss's flying V breaks off for us.




And wouldn't you know it, that little structure is the next bonus dungeon. By now, Masqurin actually has the highest agility, so she can trigger the map at the very beginning of a turn. Convenient!





It's basically one long corridor. As usual, Dantares will be on point since he has the highest movement, and I send Julian along since he's the only other character to have 6 MOV other than Synbios, who can't participate. As you can see, there's some extra monsters who exist solely to get in the way – they'll harass us, but leave the thieves be. Thankfully, since the map is so straightforward and there's only two thieves, this is really easy to take care of.



Take special note of this shot, though. The door is the exit, and if both thieves slip out through there, the bonus map is over. With an enemy in front of it, it's not easy to block off. Dantares could kill the goblin and block the exit himself, but that futzes with the AI and changes their scripting from gathering treasure to trying to escape. It's easiest to just secure the items and let the thieves escape with their precious experience.







Meanwhile, we get some fun criticals outside. Julian's blade critical is the After Burner, Synbios' sword throws the Sonic Wave, and Irene's glove has the Brutal Shock. It's hard to catch these things when the Saturn emulator already chugs most of my processing power, but they're not terribly interesting animations anyway.



Julian's going to pre-emptively backstab one of the thieves. These guys take two hits to kill, so using the second hit to take the treasure and grab kill experience is a good idea. I can't chance the same thing with Dantares, since with weapon advantage and the loincloth, there's a really high chance of him proccing a critical and instagibbing his thief.




I'll take that.



And that too.



But there's just not enough time to kill everyone before Dantares' thief makes a break for it. It's only losing out on kill gold and experience, so I won't worry about it. I grabbed the important item anyway:



Woo, not bad! Nobody on the force has Heal 2 just yet, and +5 to defense is equal to Obright's rank 1 support. I like it.



With the bonus map completed, a few more total non-threats join in on the fun. It would be target practice for Hayward, but he's ahead on levels while Irene and Julian are behind.





It always amuses me how badly the enemies always end up losing these trades.



And then we have to crawl through some forest. Masqurin and Hayward have an easy time getting through here, but everyone else is slowed down.



Oh well, nothing wrong with letting Masqurin get in on the fun first.




11 damage to the mage, 14 damage to the soldier. Yep, enemies have built in magic resistance too, even the mooks.



I don't like feeding kills from new enemies to guys who are ahead of level, but we've seen how dangerous mages can be. The last thing we need is an area effect doing 10 – 12 damage on multiple targets.



While the captain hits hard, he gets hit hard back. A couple of whacks will do him in good. Remember, Julian has weapon disadvantage against this guy.



If I didn't throw that life ring onto Masqurin, that could have easily been some lost support ranks right there. It's kind of funny how much easier this game becomes once you're aware of all the accessories you can find early on.



And let's just give the experience to the new guy, because why not?



: I'm wondering. Why are you helping us?

: I have my own reasons. I need to get on that train at all costs.



Julian: Badass anime loner.



Benetram: Saying things that don't really need to be said.

NEXT TIME: AAAAAAAaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAaaaaaaAAAaaa

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Bloodly posted:

Blades are heavier than swords(AGL penalty), but more raw ATK. Even the normal specials have special effects(Only After Burner doesn't), and most of the special Blades have specials with added effects. The compensates for few of them having any resistances or spells.

Although 'specialisation' means little-training is only a matter of time.

You've not been putting up music. This is understandable, but the music is one of the better parts.

Julian gets his own battle music(If you forgot you named him earlier, this should remind you He Is Important):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EQE...uO4ug&index=453

I only note it because it's bombastic as hell in my eyes.

Currently, we're using this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_Sq...Go9O1u4vlUuO4ug

I just wanted to say thanks for all the information you've been filling in through the thread. I'll probably go back and edit in your bits in a day or so.

Also, my omission of music is most definitely intentional. Out of the most prolific video game composers, Motoi Sakuraba is the front runner for my least favorite.


Ardeem posted:

A thousand times this. Tried to play that map a couple of days ago, have forgotten the trick to keeping them from getting killed by the dudes waiting for them. Maybe my main force is just wandering too far south.

There's a few tricks, but they require a lot of trial and error, along with a few rubs of luck from AI habits. It'll take me a few tries to get it right when I record it, guaranteed.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 11: You have no idea how sick I got of replaying the first few turns

A bit of forewarning: This update is a doozy. I've been playing this up a lot because, well, a lot happens, and there's no real good point for splitting it up. And to think, we'll be doing it again in a disc from now!




: The Imperial Border Guards have been sent all over looking for us..They're trying to cover north of the track.

: There are so many of them. We'd better take them out now. Before they get even more reinforcements.

Dantares' first solution to everything is “Kill them all.” I'm never going to disagree.

: Dantares makes a good point, but things could change any time. Take a look at the west side of the track.





: Refugees headed for the Republic. Without help, they'll be butchered. What do we do, Lord Synbios?

: They're caught in the crossfire. I don't care if they're Imperial or Republican. They need our help.


: Everyone try to catch your breath.




: We wish to seek refuge in the Republic. Please, take us with you!



: Seek refuge if you must, but our country is at war, and sacrifices must be made if she is to survive.

: What... What are you talking about?

: The Republic needs able bodied soldiers. You will either join a militia or be stripped of everything you own!




: What? How dare you!



: So you are the infamous border guards.

: Leave those Imperial citizens alone. By Imperial law, they shall be punished for attempting to defect. I was after Benetram, but a general will have to do. With your capture, I'll reap great rewards.

: We're trapped!

: You selfish peasants only think about yourselves! I'll kill you all, along with the border guards!

: Varlant! What the hell do you think you're doing?




: You've failed me, Varlant. Punishing people that seek asylum within Aspinia is against the very principles upon which the Republic was founded.




Now here's a funny little point. Whether we choose yes or no, we're going to get the same faux-silence from Synbios. What this does is change his dialogue in scenario 2, where he'll talk just like a normal character. Unfortunately, I don't have a script for scenario 2 handy (though I will try to get one by the time I start it), so I can't transcribe anything for you here. Suffice it to say, whatever Synbios says, the rest of the scene plays along exactly the same.

: Shut up, you snot nosed whelp! What do you know? Peace is kept because of soldiers. No country can survive without a military!

: You've been through many fierce battles, and your anger is understandable. Nevertheless, wouldn't it be better if we could return to the Republic peacefully?

: How many have died due to Imperial plots? I've lost so many soldiers! I'll kill every last Imperial soldier and burn the Empire to the ground!

: Have you lost your mind, General Varlant? You don't appear willing to listen to reason. If so, we must fight the both of you.

If only Benetram had been written more strongly right here. How much better would it have been if Benetram had simply declared Varlant guilty of treason and ordered Synbios General Dantares to execute him right there?




: Medion, what are you doing here?

: We will discuss the details later. I came here to speak with you, but we must take care of this threat first!

: People can't choose where they're born but they should have the right to choose where they live. Although, it's a little discouraging to see people leave their homeland.

: The military should protect the people, not oppress them, otherwise the nation will not survive!

: Mark my words, you who threaten civilians seeking asylum are on thin ice! We, the Medion army, will not allow your sins to go unpunished!



Another silent choice that affects a few lines of dialogue in scenario 2 and not much else.

: We will handle General Varlant's forces. We'll make sure they don't lay a finger on those refugees!




And like that, the most frustrating fight of scenario 1 starts.





Hey, the enemies look a little sparse, not too tough, and there appears to be a bunch of friends towards the bottom! This should be ea-







So here's the thing about Switching Point: There's five civilians at the bottom of the map, and the cluster of five Destonian Soldiers behind them are programmed to kill those civilians. Now, we could just let them all die. However, for each one that survives, everyone in the force gets 10 experience, meaning a whopping 50 experience to everyone for all five survivors. At this point in the game, where a high experience yield is 35 for a kill, that's just too much to pass up. There's another bonus associated with saving everyone, but that won't be relevant for a long time.

All that said, saving everyone is going to be excruciatingly painful. As far as I know, there's a baseline requirement that Synbios has to pass, and a bit of luck involved.




So here's the thing about Switching Point. At the beginning of every turn, a pair of trains move along the railroad tracks, highlighted in the light brown.



As you can see, the refugees start south of the tracks. They need to be able to cross into the area between the two rails tracks, or the border guards behind them are going to slaughter them. It may sound simple enough for now, but do remember that the soldiers have 6 MOV to the refugees' 5. And there's quite a few more caveats going on.



One of the very nice things is that Camelot actually gave us control of the refugees. Although most of them die in one hit, we won't be losing anyone due to horrendous AI bullshit, just moderate AI bullshit.




Step 1 is to get Dantares moving at full speed towards the south. The refugees need immediate help, and we're about to see why. Synbios and Julian will follow, for reasons beyond having 6 MOV.



Everybody else just goes west and beats up on the mostly non-threatening enemies.




Unfortunately, I forgot that my master plan doesn't actually work right now. See, the thing is that Dantares has an objective to reach, and he needs to be able to move 100% unhindered in order to reach it on time. If he gets blocked off in any way, then he's just too late to reach it. This soldier right here is in the way. Normally, my plan is to distract the soldier with Synbios – due to Synbios being the leader, the AI will always prioritize him, giving Dantares free passage. However I forgot that Synbios is only sporting 9 AGI right now while the soldier has 10 AGI. This means that the soldier gets to move first, and Synbios can't get in position to distract the enemy first.

Oh well, I needed to show at least one failure run anyway.



Next turn, which is the third, Dantares is just one tile short of being able to reach the lever right there. If Dantares can't hit the switch on the third turn (and he is the only character who has enough movement to do it), then this happens on turn 4:




Yep. You can more or less guess what follows in the next few turns. Oh but hey, if we rewind a bit, one guy did manage to make it through!



Except without Dantares hitting the switch and moving forward fast enough, we get this:



This refugee is the beefy one, who's actually able to survive two hits for some reason. He also comes with a medical herb, so he has a little bit of room for mistakes, but it doesn't matter.



: drat you Border Guard swine! They'll kill those innocent people. Protect those refugees, Synbios!

Easier said than done, really.



Right, so in addition to the soldiers chasing from behind, there's two snipers and another soldier waiting between the two railroad tracks. If I can't get Dantares, Synbios, and Julian over towards that group of enemies fast enough, then they'll start attacking the refugees too. It really sucks, because sometimes the AI on those enemies just won't attack your characters no matter how hard you try.



Why don't we take a look at the switch after turn 4 anyway?







Anyways, as you'll recall from the Irene fight, any fight conditions other than a bonus dungeon get reset if we just egress out. As you'll also recall from the intro, Julian is strongly hinted at being the protagonist for scenario 3. This means he gets the spell Egress too, without the burden of ending the fight if he gets killed. There's a bit of bonus to this factoid, but I'll cover that later.

Now that we have a second shot, let's actually set this up proper.




As long as Synbios moves before that soldier, this will work. If you don't want to burn up the Quick Chicken found in Railhead, you can alternatively buy a rapier for Synbios, which will boost his agility by just enough.




Second try. This is the tile I generally use to lure over the soldier, just because the rock makes it easy to remember.



Perfect! Now Dantares can get to the switch in time.



It's a little annoying, because this soldier is going to be constantly beating down on Synbios with weapon advantage. Because Synbios needs to keep running forward towards the refugees, he'll be taking free damage for two or three turns. It's worth tossing a medical herb or two on him, so he doesn't enter danger zone HP.



I forgot a detail beyond getting Dantares to the switch. If you don't see anything wrong in this screenshot, don't worry. The mistake is so innocuous, you won't realize it until it's way too late.



Dantares hits the switch, which causes the following:



The train on the southern track now deviates to the broken rail. Since it's all rusted and crap, the train moves much slower and takes several extra turns to cut off the entry point for the refugees. Again, the snipers and soldier in the middle can still aggress on the refugees, so we're not in the clear yet, but this is the first hurdle to clear.




And this is where I realize my mistake. I stopped Synbios right where the train also stops, and the soldier cut off his path. Synbios needs to waste movement walking around all those obstacles, not leaving him with enough to clear the tracks. Why is that a big deal?



Oh right, because you're not allowed to stop on a rail tile. Thanks, Camelot. So now that Synbios can't cross the rail on that turn, he won't be able to run up to the middle group of enemies and draw their fire away from the refugees. While the refugees are safe from the pursuers, they'll only get killed by the snipers now.

I know what's coming, so I just egress at this point, making note that the one rock is exactly the row I need to be in to walk past the train.



My third attempt at Switching Point ends pretty quickly. I messed up Dantares' first move by letting him sit one tile too far to the left, and as a result he can't hit the switch on the third turn.

See what I mean when this fight sucks? I know how to beat this fight, and I still had three failures. This fight took me something close to fifteen tries the first time I played this game. When combined with how god drat long the train movement animation takes, this fight will drive you insane.



Anyways, this is the exact tile Dantares needs to be on his first turn.



Synbios in position.



Leapfrog the rock correctly.




Secure an escape route for the refugees.



It sure looks safe for them now, but...







While Dantares charges in to distract the mid enemies, here's where we all realize that Camelot actually did throw us a bone. On turn 4, where the civilians have to huddle up in front of the railroad tracks because they're just short on movement to cross over, the soldiers behind them don't actually use their full movement. If you check their movement range, they could easily move in and kill everyone. The thing is, the AI just chooses not to, and it will do this every time. Why Camelot programmed the fight this way is anyone's guess, but at least once you realize this, saving everyone becomes much more feasible.



With Dantares and Synbios out in front, it's now fairly unlikely that the middle enemies will try to attack the refugees. Remember, the AI is programmed to prioritize heroes over almost everything else. Dragging Synbios along is really for the sake of distracting the enemies from the refugees.



The beefcake refugee is going to sit in this little spot, which is 100% safe from all aggression. That's at least one guy saved.



And everyone else gets across the tracks shortly after.



Dantares and Synbios shuffle around to cut off an easy path to the refugees.



And Julian demonstrates his ability to play the part of Synbios' understudy. Remember how the enemy AI will prioritize heroes? This applies to Julian too, even though he doesn't have the “game over if dead” status!



Yeah, not taking any chances with this one.



Mostly because at this point, one or two of the soldiers can cross the tracks and actually hit a refugee in range. It's a matter of the RNG if it wants to screw me over or hit Synbios. It chooses Synbios.



And on turn six or seven, the train pulls back into place, cutting off both the soldiers and Mister Beefcake Refugee. This fight is now officially under control.



Apparently the border guards get discouraged easily.




The first axe critical, Full Swing. Obright sets his axe horizontally and spins like a top.



And would you look at that. After the trains have pulled through, there's a clear opening for everyone in the middle to meet up with the northern group and take out the boss.




I mean, I guess these guys have been doing things, but the enemies in that section are so spread out, it's trivial to pick them off one by one.




Some items to be fetched while we're here.



Mister Beefcake is going to be chilling here for a while.



Now it's just a matter of cleaning up the boss and his flunkies.




Looks like dwarves have negative resistance to fire too!



: Prince Medion, the Synbios battalion is... Please aid us and reinforce our unit...

: My brother has ordered me to crush the rampaging Republican dogs, not innocent, unarmed civilians!

Wow, harsh words from Medion. Too bad we'll forget them in no time.

: Prince Medion? You would turn away while your countrymen are cut down? You call yourself a prince?

: I have no obligation to border guards who would slaughter innocent imperial citizens, sir!

: You will regret this, Prince Medion! If we survive, people shall hear of this black deed.

“Imperial citizens, your prince stopped cold, heartless soldiers from executing harmless laymen just like yourselves! What a villain!”

Yeah, that'll work out just the way you want it to.



I got just a tad too aggressive with Masqurin. Even with a +4 DEF item, that boss hits her like a truck.



Aw nuts. Well, I had to show this off eventually.



So, every time a character dies, their support rank with every other character drops by 1. Die a lot, and you won't have any support ranks in the long term. Supports are nice and clear the game faster but they're not strictly necessary. Thankfully, Masqurin's best support partner hasn't been recruited yet, so I'm not going to weep the loss of magic up on Dantares and Hayward.



Meanwhile, Grace proves that she's an acceptable substitute in a pinch.





Oops. That's not pretty, but with two healers around, it's not too dangerous. Strangely, Irene took 10 damage from the spell.



Synbios support and weapon advantage? I'll take two, if you have the supply.




Really, the attack up support is what Synbios is good for.



Just look at all those supports.



Still trying to get a decent shot of the sword rank 1 critical, Sonic Wave. Still failing.



And hey, Mister Beefcake can finally get out.



Or not.




Well, that was a bit painful, but it only took me four tries this time! With frameskip to deal with the annoyingly long train movement animation, it wasn't nearly so bad as the first time I played this game.

However, refugee rescue will be back eventually, and it will be much worse. Be prepared.











: It is we who are indebted. No innocent blood was spilled thanks to your defeating the notorious border guards.

FUN FACT: I'm playing the fan translation. While it left most of the script for scenario 1 intact, they redid this entire scene so it would line up in scenario 2. Campbell's original line was different:

: Oh no... we are the ones to say thank you. Those Border Guards are despicable.

Frankly, I find the original better. It's emphasized many times in scenario 2 that Campbell was born a peasant, so it makes more sense for his speech patterns to be less formal.

Look at me, being critical of video game writing. Switching Point does weird things to my head. Let's move on and pretend this never happened.

Also, as a warning, irfanview screwed up a few of my dialogue screenshots. A bit of the original script is going to be cobbled in with the retranslation, but the general gist of everything is the same.

: Since you pursued us this far, I'm sure there is much you would like to know. I will answer your questions to the best of my knowledge.

: The rumor in the Empire is that King Benetram abducted the Emperor. First, tell us if that is true or not.

: I'm sure you can tell by looking at us that we are not responsible. Had we abducted the emperor, he would be with us now.

: However, the rumor isn't complete fabrication. A false Benetram did assist in the abduction of the emperor. We encountered the impostor earlier.



More “this choice only affects a bit of dialogue from scenario 2” stuff.

: I see. But are you sure that's all there is to it? When you defeated the border guard captain, he said 'the die is cast'. I wonder what he meant by that.

Campbell: Already much smarter than Dantares is. But far less badass.

: Abducting the emperor and impersonating King Benetram are both their responsibility.

: In the cargo area on the western edge of Saraband, we fought the monks of Bulzome, right before the abduction.

: In other places, too. Wherever we went, we encountered the Bulzome Sect doing some covert things.

: I'd imagine you'd like to know about the emperor's current whereabouts. We were trapped by the 4 High Priests of Bulzome, who said they'd take the Emperor by ship while we distract the Empire.

: That must have been the ship we saw earlier!

: So we did have a chance to rescue my father, but we let them slip away right under our noses! My brothers are with the fleet, but Rogan's ship is also there.

: The general is one of the few who sympathizes with you, Prince. Let us make haste Barrand!

: I am sorry, we must take our leave. Lord Synbios, and everyone else, I shall pray for your safety.



This demonstration of bro-ship is not going to last.




If I were in charge of retranslating this game, this is the point where Synbios would get demoted and Cybel would immediately take his place.



: Varlant's army is no more, Sir Dantares. He lost his mind, and with it, his ability to fight effectively. Spiriel's army kept us on the run, and the general snapped. I tried to bring him to his senses, but I was separated from the main body and survived, but General Varlant, who thought he was invincible, is gone.

: There is no need to be so hard on yourself. You can die anytime. Now, you must find a way to live, Cybel.

: Your majesty Benetram! I have deserted my commander. I am ashamed to call myself a knight.

: I saw your general's last moments. He clearly lost his mind. There is no fault on your part, Cybel.

: If you are so concerned about your knight's honor, why not prove yourself, and lend us a hand?

: To preserve my honor as an Aspinian knight, I shall join your cause.



All in all, Varlant's ending is really unsatisfying. He was sold to us as a pretty decent, if undiplomatic guy, and then he loses his poo poo at the drop of a hat. There were probably better, more nuanced ways of writing his character so he'd come off better as a bit antagonist, but oh well.




NEXT TIME: I'm getting paid in what?

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Shining Force Central does have a translation of scenarios 2 and 3 posted, but they're not even close to the translation used in the patch, which is why I didn't want to draw on it.

You can probably do the exact same thing with Julian as I did with Synbios, but it just never occurred to me to feed him the quick chicken instead. You really need to bring both, though, otherwise you don't have enough firepower to kill the snipers and soldier that are waiting for the refugees in the middle.

And I've mentioned before that this is only my second time playing the game (third, if you count the fact that I had to restart at the end of chapter 1). For some reason, Synbios is turning out amazing this time - he's gotten three +2 ATT levels, whereas he never got any of those until promotion before.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 12: The apology for Switching Point



: At least they could've given us chairs.

Actually, if you talk to everyone in Railhead, somebody does point out that you have to bring your own chairs onto the train. Considering that Masqurin does accompany Synbios for the Railhead trip, this line is only plausible if we assume Masqurin has ADD. Which she probably does.

God, I hate myself for putting this much thought into a JRPG.

: Oh Masqurin. I was wondering what you were going to say about this.

: Well, don't you agree, Lord Synbios? They're making a lot of money by transporting the cargo, and then they charge us all that money, only to treat us like this. That's quite cruel! And what is this awful odor? They won't put us in the same cart as the commoners but... They didn't have to put us right next to the smelly schickens... I mean, chickens! We're not livestock!!!

: I think that is just about enough, Masqurin. Look at Lord Synbios and King Benetram. They haven't said anything.

: Masqurin is right. This place smells awful and my feet are going numb!

: What? Even you, Lord Synbios and everyone else... and even the King...

: Oh, don't be so harsh, Dantares. This train isn't well ventilated. And the odor IS quite strong.

: I understand, my Liege. We're not supposed to, but... Let's crack open the cart door, just a little bit.



They crack open that door on the right and all the sprites turn back and forth, presumably making small talk.

: That's better, but...

: You want to explore the train? That's a good idea, Synbios. Why don't you go look around?

We now get to control Synbios and explore the train. Sadly, there's not a whole lot to see, but a few things to grab. We can also chat with everyone on the train to get their thoughts:

: Lord Synbios always gets treated different than the rest of us! King Benetram is being unfair! I'm sure he's just worried about me, but I'm not a child anymore... I can tell what's safe and what's not.

Masqurin, childish and bratty as always.

: I... I really envy Masqurin. I wish I had a little bit of her capability to act freely and so casually.

: Most associate Dwarves with caves... Personally, I don't care for narrow, dark places. I don't like this train.

Theirene: In Irene country, not have this. No strange machine say 'choo choo choo'. How it move? Is civilization? Surprising!

: Where is Irene from? I admit she's cute, but she definitely needs help in the language department.

Um, Hayward?





: I'd love to go with you, but if I went, the others might wonder. Please go on ahead.



: I'm just a mercenary, looking for a certain Vandal that has revived. I came across some interesting information which brought me to Destonia. If what I heard is correct, my search may end there.

FUN FACT: Shining The Holy Ark (or is it Shining Wisdom?) has a young child named Julian who asks you if you've seen a vandal who killed his dad. I wonder if these could be related.

: Synbios, this is very curious. All the carts are similar to each other but the engine cart is different.

Well duh, it contains the engine. It might be canon that centaurs aren't known for their brains.



First things first, let's take a gander at the Gale Ring we picked up last battle. It's got some real nice stats to it, and I'm throwing it on Cybel for now, since she and Julian are the only characters without accessories right now. It would probably be better on Julian since the AI is attracted to him, but I like Cybel better.

In the next car over:



I assume these guys only show up if you actually saved them in the previous fight. I wouldn't know for sure, as I always save everyone.

Also hey, there's Quonus again. I wonder if that'll be a plot point that remains relevant for a long time.


: Since the floor is vibrating violently, if I sit, my bum will be really sore when we arrive in Barrand.

If you're assuming that I only included this for the use of because I am twelve years old, you'd be correct.



One of the goodies we need to pick up. This boosts DEF by 2 – 4. I believe it was originally called the Armor Milk, but the folks at Shining Force Central reverted it to the legacy name.



Bonus shopkeeper harassment item. As usual, we're leaving it in the deals section.



Finally, real weapon upgrades! I pick up a new sword for Synbios, a new lance for Dantares, and a new arrow for Hayward. They cost 750, 900, and 1200g respectively. Weapons are not cheap in Shining Force 3, so don't go too crazy with killing Synbios all the time.



I kept this because I was impressed with the translation's ability to avoid dangling prepositions.



At the very rear car, we find the local priest and this useless item. Actually, calling this item useless is being far too generous. It's ultimately going to waste my time, and I'm going to hate it.



Masqurin wasn't lying about the chickens, by the way. And sadly enough, they're necessary for a 100% run.




Because I have to do this.



And yes, that loving chicken is following me around now. gently caress you, chicken. Anyone who's played this game before knows why I hate this bird so much.

Let's just say yes and get the plot moving.



Was anyone stopping her? Anyone at all?

At this point the train starts vibrating, and Masqurin in all her thinly veiled jealous peers out the open door.



The sprite for a new enemy that will be mostly harmless.



: It's the bush bandits!

The what?

: You are right, Julian. But for these bandits to attack the train seems very odd.

: Yes, I had heard that the trains were safe because the local bandits feared retaliation from Saraband.




Give me a break. I have Dantares, Masqurin, and now Cybel. You bring this, and you're calling us bumbling? Boy are you going to regret that.



: Then why are you attacking?

: To get King Benetram's head!

: Are you ready to get through us for it?

: Is that so? The price on my head, you would cross Garvin for that?



Oh, they brought buddies.



: We will take advantage of it while we have the opportunity. This train is bound for the Republic. Its passengers mean nothing to the Empire. We can slaughter them all.

: You vile beasts! Your'e just using us as an excuse!

: I'm done talking. Everyone, tear them apart!

: We must get to the passenger car, Synbios. We must protect those people!

The way Benetram's talking, it sounds like there's a specific objective for this mission. There isn't, and good thing too, because I couldn't tell you which direction the passenger car is in.




The map is just a straight line with a few chokepoints, fewer dangerous enemies, and zero extraneous objectives. In other words, it's incredibly easy.

While irfanview chewed up a screenshot comparing the stats of Cybel and Dantares, suffice it to say that they're nearly identical. Cybel started 1 HP, 5 ATT, and 1 DEF down on Dantares. However, three points of that ATT gap get covered when she ranks up in halberds, leaving her mostly the same. While she is a strictly worse Dantares, that's like saying Bayonetta is a strictly worse God Hand. Cybel is still easily in the top five characters for scenario 1.

Shut up, I know I'm bad at analogies.



On the close end, there's a small maze of boxes. The birdmen will be able to hop over that, but who cares because Hayward can kill them in one hit without a critical. Cybel goes to plug the hole. She needs a weapon rank as soon as possible, and with the Gale Ring, nothing is scratching her.



Meanwhile, there's a buttload of barrels to break. At this point, barrels give more experience than birdmen and comparable experience to dwarves. It's sad. Three of them also contain items: an angel wing (casts Return/Egress), a fairy powder (cures most status effects) and a healing drop. Nothing interesting.




The new enemy at work. Granted, this is with weapon disadvantage and on a massively steroided Cybel, so maybe it'll be more dangerous in another situation.



The two birdmen instantly go for Julian, which means easy pickings for whoever wants them.



After Burner still looks really cool. This might also be the only fight with this background set.




A vanilla critical hit, because I never managed to cap one before, and they're going to become increasingly rare as the game goes along. The character simply pauses and flashes blue before dealing extra damage. The attack normally would have hit for 9, so that's a 33% increase.





Assassins may be unimpressive, but their attack animations are kind of cool and they do backflips.



Everyone else advances to the other side, and I marvel at just how stupid the AI is sometimes.




dorf.jpg




Dantares and Obright go to work, getting Obright his first support, finally.







When we move up Synbios to be another living wall:



Your compassion for the sheep on this train is spurring you on! If that is the case, let me reduce your burden of responsibility! As we planned! Uncouple the car!




Joke's on you. That birdman is totally thinking “Wow, I dodged a bullet on that one.” Also, they were chickens, not sheep.



: Those loathesome bandits, using underhanded tricks! Keep your head, Synbios. They are trying to make us panic.



I must have panicked, because this was really loving stupid and should not have happened.






It's no surprise that Obright took extra damage, but Irene took an unusually high amount too. Let's investigate!






Well, would you look at that. Irene has total crap for magic resists! Obright's are even worse, but that's to be expected from his character class.



Irene goes to work, but I was a dumbass who had her heal herself. Remember, healing characters gives support levels, and you can't support yourself. It would have been better for Irene to heal somebody else and then Grace healing Irene. Oops.



This is the most “come at me, bro” pose possible.



It's been broughten.



Oh, god dammit.



Dammit, indeed. Something tells me that poison actually scales on both max HP and the enemy that inflicted it.





Heal 2 has extra range, extra healing power, and extra little sparklies in its animation. I might be wrong on the higher healing power though. Too much time playing Shining Force 2 romhacks will do that to you.




Cybel moves to take Synbios' place while Obright starts busting up more barrels past the chokepoints. I'm really only doing this to get Cybel's first rank in halberds, so her ATT will be more comparable to Dantares'.



And it doesn't take long!



Now that I've done everything that I want to do, it's time to kill everybody but one enemy, and then mop of our little treasure troves of experience. I'm talking about the barrels, in case it's not obvious.



It's so anime, yet I love it.









Antidote's casting animation. I'm never using this again, because it's far more efficient to use one of the millions of free antidotes or fairy powders that enemies drop and conserve MP for actual healing.



I'm not entirely sure what's going on here, but it looks like that assassin is thinking twice about loving with Cybel.



This screenshot looks kind of funny. I have nothing of value left to add to this fight.




After Masqurin cleans out all the barrels, she actually picks up rank 2 in rods. Blaze is going to hit even harder than ever, not that we need it.



Yawn.



: We must get to the locomotive engineer and ask him to reverse course.





D'aww, Zero.

: Yes, I see you too, Zero. What brings you two here?

: My brother and I remained in Flagard to guard Lord Conrad. But when we heard of the failure of the peace conference.

Flagard is the hometown of the core crew (Synbios, Dantares, Masqurin, and Grace). I'm not sure if that's made explicit until much later in the game.

: We were told to hurry and give aid to Lord Synbios, but when we entered Empire territory, we saw this train being attacked by bandits.

: We were torn between helping or looking for you, but decided not to ignore the matter and returned here.

: Your sense of justice reunited us. In any case, I appreciate Conrad sending you to us.

: I'm glad to see you safe, my liege. But to be honest, that's not the only reason we came back here.

: Time's wasting. What is it?

: The bridge over the border has been destroyed. If we proceed, the train will go straight into the canal!

: Then, quickly, fly to the engine car and tell the locomotive engineer what you just told us.

: There are many more bandits on the engine car. We must defeat them first, before we can stop the train.

: Hurry onto the roof, Synbios. Take out the bandits clinging to the train, and get us to the engine room.



NEXT TIME: Our first real boss!

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


The Shining Force: Part 3


”Mercenary from Enrich Kingdom out to avenge his father's death. Pursues the Vandal Galm who killed his father. Despite his young age, he has excellent skill with a sword.”
Pros: Builds out like Synbios but better, attracts the enemy AI
Cons: Doesn't stick around for very long
Spells: Return
Support: Attack Up
Thoughts: Oh, if only we got Julian instead of Synbios as our hero. Unfortunately, as the introduction implies, Synbios is our protagonist, and Julian is just guest starring. He won't be with us much longer, rendering his support mostly moot, but on the plus side that does open some item duplication opportunities for us.


”Female centaur knight who joins the Synbios army to clear her name after being separated from the Varlant army on the battlefield.”
Pros: Is almost Dantares...
Cons: ...but not quite
Support: Succumb Up
Thoughts: In a game without Dantares, Cybel would still be an extremely good character. As it is, she's a carbon copy who will lag a point or two behind him. In spite of all this, she's still the fourth best character in scenario 1, which really says a lot. If you want to bench Dantares on account of being too broken but still need a centaur, Cybel fills in nicely. Also my favorite character for no real reason.


”Dispatched to the Empire by Lord Conrad to rescue King Benetram, whose life is in danger due to the failure of the peace conference. Zero is her younger brother.”
Pros: Flies, specializes in a good weapon, useful support
Cons: Weak base stats, no terrain bonus
Support: Evade Up
Thoughts: Eldar is an interesting case of Camelot almost getting flying units right. While Eldar is initially very weak and swords kind of suck, her lategame weapons are incredible. Also, the designers finally wised up and made maps that actually create advantages for being a flier. Sticking with Eldar is more or less required since she's the only real flier in scenario 1, but it pays off eventually.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Ardeem posted:

Man, you're going through this fast, and I take it from commentary you arn't going to be making the same decision that Total Biscuit did with the mascot character.

I don't know what he did with the character in question, but training up Penn is ridiculously easy, if tedious, in the bonus dungeon at the end of the game that was mostly likely designed for him. I'll just grind him through that, so he's somewhat prepped for scenario 3.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


I actually did that on my first run through this game, and doing that chewed up more time than pulling this stunt did:



In the interests of not stalling out the thread for two or three weeks, I'll relegate him to his "proper" training point.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


TerryLennox posted:

Does that picture of Eldar have breasts on it? Now I can't unsee them. I understand the stinkup in the Starbound thread.

Man, you are in for some disturbing revelations.


Heren posted:

Enjoying the LP so far inthesto! You did a great job with Shining Force 2 as well. I like how you handle being informative with the mechanics while still having good commentary on the story - I'm especially interested this time around because while I was a big fan of Shining Force 2 I've never played 3 at all.

Since TerryLennox mentioned the GBA Shining Force: inthesto, I saw maybe 2 updates of an LP you did for it elsewhere. The 10-Yogurt screencap makes me think I'm missing out. Do you have any other stuff for Shining Force or other games around the net somewhere?

I started an LP of Shining Force GBA a while back, which you can find here (archives required). I had to stop it due to a hard drive meltdown, but there's a fair chance I'll redo it after I finish this game (in three years from now).

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


The translation patch actually has to be used with a US/EU version of disc 1, IIRC. It'll patch discs 2 and 3 just fine, since those are the only versions available.

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Part 13: This guy sounds familiar



Yeah, we tucked them in good night. Forever.





: Hear you out! Hah! I hardly think you are in any position to make requests. And even if you were, I don't think my friends in the Empire would be pleased were I to let you go. I could never betray my associates. I am most sorry, but accept your fate, and don't make this difficult.

So, the Empire's in on Domaric's kidnapping. Huh.



: You have your orders, Dantares! Run them down!





: I would have preferred to avoid violence, but we're too close to that bridge. Synbios, take them out!

So, we finally have our first flying unit of the game. When I said she had terrible base stats, I wasn't kidding:




Yep, she's behind Masqurin in attack. Granted, Masqurin has rank 2 with her weapon and Eldar is at rank 0, but that's still pathetic. We're going to need to spoon feed her a lot of experience, because she's more or less a required character for the entire game.



The map is another linear one. No new enemies except the boss, and very straightforward. It's as if Camelot is apologizing for Switching Point.



Shiraf himself is a pretty beefy guy, but since I've been really combing through the game for accessories, he's not a real threat. Don't believe me?




Without that protect ring, Synbios's defense would be 11. With it, Shiraf is going to be doing something like 2 or 3 damage a swing. Cybil also has 17 defense. The army is extremely tanky with all these accessories I've been collecting, and it's making the game a lot easier than it should be. Not that Shiraf is a difficult boss, but he's trivial by now.

Also, Shiraf's name seems familiar. Wish I could remember where I've heard it before.




First things first, we're going to have to toss the battle bracer onto Eldar. See, the thing about Shining Force games is that the amount of experience you receive from attacking is proportionate to how much damage you deal. If somebody falls behind, they're going to stay behind unless you specifically designate units for them to kill. It's why birdmen have had a lot of trouble in Shining Force history – they get mediocre attack as a trade-off for their flying abilities, and have difficulty keeping up in levels as a result. Either that, or they become Claude, Peter, or Kiddo. But let's not talk about those characters.




The first batch of enemies is a dark mage and a pair of dwarves. Since the dark mage made a bad decision in whacking Synbios rather than casting a spell, we're in the clear. Dwarves are easy now that we have three sword users.





Eldar's weapon, while called a “wing”, still counts as a sword type. While they generally have less attack than the standard swords that Synbios uses, it also grants its user a defense boost. Fliers need this badly, as they don't benefit from terrain bonus, so we're going to keep Eldar on wings. They also have some cooler weapons down the line, which I'll be sure to fetch.




lovely mage AI is making this even easier than it should be.



While we're on a train rooftop, I'm not really sure what this netting is supposed to be and how they're walking on it. I may be going through this battle quickly in the update, but the advancement was very slow in play time, because I was trying to feed kills to Cybel and Eldar. If I haven't mentioned it before, killing an enemy gives you a flat amount of experience, regardless of how much damage you dealt.



Past the netting is the engine car. Once you approach, Shiraf starts hightailing it to the back. It doesn't make much difference, but it's slightly annoying.




And then these guys spawn, but who cares. They deal no damage and...



Yeah, this has been the situation for a while now.



Just look at this clusterfuck! This is what happens when you're trying to give every kill to one or two members of the party. None of the enemies do enough damage to matter, so it takes a while to mop it all up.



Killing a bunch of dudes doesn't get Eldar a level, but it does snag her a rank in wings. She's looking a bit better now. Not good, but better.






Finally, a good capture of Sonic Wave! Unfortunately, the animation isn't very exciting. The higher rank criticals for Synbios are going to be equally boring.





The camera kind of starts to really suck at this point. There's a one-tile wide corridor going straight down the car, but due to the huge engine on the train and the rail on the opposite side, it's kind of hard to see anything.



The view gets a bit better as we push our way up. As long as we can peace out the mage quickly, the fight's all but over. Assassins don't do much damage outside of their poison, but even if we get hit by that, we've got a lot of spare antidotes lying around.




Maybe I spoke a moment too soon.



Hey, stop that. I have to level her up.





Um, okay. Synbios never hit nearly this hard early on in my last playthrough, so there's an anomaly here somewhere.





The first rank wing critical, called “Twister”. It actually looks identical to Demitri's uppercut in the Darkstalkers series, if you're familiar with non-mainstream fighting games.



At some point, Shiraf decided to go attack a leader unit instead. Except, he picked the wrong one. Or the right one, considering he'd barely be scratching Synbios' armor.




Don't forget that a lot of accessories have useable effects! This only fetches 3 experience for Synbios since he's not flagged as a healer, but it's better than the flat 1 you always got in previous games.



After some surround and pound with a bit of first aid from Grace, let's see if we can't get the newcomer a level.





Having weapon advantage is great.



Oh hey, more stuff to throw into storage until the end game.



: How could I be defeated? If I die, the bandits will run rampant, slaughtering everyone. You will regret this, Benetram!

: Tell me one thing, Shiraf. I suspect you knew long beforehand that the peace conference would fail.

: How did... why would you think that, Benetram?

: Bandits from Dusty were after us before we had even left Saraband. That seems a bit convenient to me.

: I guess the rumors about you are not unfounded, Benetram. I commend you for your intuition. No matter how you try, and even if you manage to get back to the Republic, you are doomed. The die is cast.

That last line sounds familiar. Where have we heard that before?



Ah ha! Now that we know that's Fiale, there's got to be some kind of connection between Bulzome, the bandits, and the Destonian Empire.

: If we discover the truth, and rescue the Emperor, there are some in the Empire who will listen to reason.

: You expect Prince Medion to come through for you? I doubt you can even reach Barrand. Even if you reach General Rogan, the Seagate won't set sail safely. Remember that! The prince will be your stumbling block!





: My lord, please. At this rate, the train will...

: You are right. If we give in, who knows what will happen to the Republic. Dantares, hurry and go talk to the engineer. We must convince him to stop the train!

I like to imagine that Dantares busts into the engine room, skewers the engineer, and then stops the train by smashing everything in sight.



And with that, the train stops.




: Zero, you have returned. Was everything all right back there?

: You should trust me more, sis. But to tell you the truth,the news that Shiraf was defeated helped us greatly, though it was still a hard fought battle.

Us? There's just Zero here. I'd like to assume that Zero just took them all out by himself, but we're going to know that was impossible in scenario 2.

: I commend your effort, Zero!

: The stranded passengers are now our responsibility, aren't they?

: I also worry about the passengers, but they'd be in more danger with us. Leave them with railroad security.

: Well then, what shall we do? We can enter Barrand from the northern mountain region. Then we could return to the Republic through the narrow valley.

: It looks like a detour, but that route may be the fastest.

: So we're going north from here.

: What's going on, Julian? You have a smirk on your face. You're a strange one.

: Do you know much about this region? To the north is Quonus Village. If I remember, it's said to be cursed.

Cursed? Now where on earth did you hear that?






No way this could turn out poorly!

: Oh no, it's my first time in Destonia, Aspinia, and Quonus Village. Hmm, the cursed Quonus Village...

: Let us get going, my Liege. We must reach Quonus Village before the sun goes down and moon comes up, otherwise we will end up sleeping under the stars.

: Synbios, there's something Shiraf said that I can't seem to get my mind off of. He mentioned Prince Medion. Should something happen to him, the peace in the Republic will... Listen Zero, I must ask you for yet another favor. Fly over to Prince Medion, and then guard him well. If anything happens, you let us know.



Zero will never stop being adorable.






Instead, they were greeted by a border guard unit placed there by Prince Arrawnt to protect the train station. To avoid a battle with the border guards, Synbios and his allies left. They ran into Prince Medion at a rail switching point. Thw two nobles cooperated to protect a band of refugees whose lives were in danger. The Synbios army then boarded a train, and ruined a gang of bandits' bid to take over the train and its cargo. But the destruction of the rail tracks forced them to disembark. Now they head north to Quonus Village.

NEXT TIME: Camelot still hates us!

inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Blech, I even knew I skipped that mithril, but forgot to mention it while I was writing the update. The game gives you way too many of the drat things.

Also, I never knew that Shiraf had a rank in maces. You can't check those stats on enemies, and I've never had him proc a critical on me. That must make his base stats absolutely terrible.

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inthesto
May 12, 2010

There is a point where we needed to stop, and we have clearly passed it.

BUT LET'S KEEP GOING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!


Welp, bad news, thread!

I moved across the country, and guess what piece of machinery didn't survive the trip?

It was a good run.

I'll see if I can't replace it before the thread falls intothe archives

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